Who is Kale Kayihura, the Retiring NRA Bush War General

Gen Edward Kalekezi Kayihura, commonly known as Kale Kayihura, is a Ugandan lawyer, former UPDF General, farmer and former policeman.

Gen Edward Kalekezi Kayihura, commonly known as Kale Kayihura (Photo/Courtesy)

President Museveni yesterday approved the retirement of former Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura among other 110 UPDF officers who are set to retire from active service of the army in August this year.

According to a press statement by Defence and Army spokesperson Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, Gen Kayihura is among the 11 Generals braced for retirement with 99 others on the list being senior officers whose ranks range from Major to Colonel.

Other Generals listed include; Lt Gen James Nakibus Lakara, Maj Gen Samuel Wasswa Mutesasira, Maj Gen Joseph Arocha and Maj Gen David Wakaalo, Brig Gen Austine Kasatwooki Kamanyire, Brig Gen Stephen Oluka.

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The list of retiring Generals also includes Brig Gen Frank Katende Kyambadde, Brig Gen Emmanuel Kwihangana, Brig Gen Wilson Muhabuzi and Brig Gen Ham Atwooki Kaija, most of whom were members of the National Resistance Army before it took power in 1986.

Responding to the news of his retirement, Gen Kayihura in a video shared by locals who visited his farm in Katebe Village, Kasagama Sub-county in Lyantonde District said, “Free at last.”

But who is Kayihura?

Gen Edward Kalekezi Kayihura, commonly known as Kale Kayihura, is a Ugandan lawyer, military General, farmer and former policeman. He was the Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the Uganda Police Force, the highest rank in that branch of Uganda’s government, from 2005 until 5 March 2018.

Gen Kale Kayihura during his time as IGP

Early Life and Education

Kayihura was born in Kisoro District, Western Uganda, on 26 December 1955. He is the son of Johnson Komuluyange Kalekezi, one of the Ugandans who fought for the African Great Lakes nation’s independence, which occurred on 9 October 1962. His father died in an aeroplane crash in Kiev, Ukraine on 17 August 1960, when Kale Kayihura was only four years old.

Kayihura went to Gasiza Primary School for primary education and Mutolere Secondary School, at Mutolere, in Kisoro District for lower secondary education (UCE).

His brilliance in school caught the attention of his paternal uncle, the late Frank Gasasira, an accomplished civil servant at the time, who took over the responsibility of his education. In 1974, Kale Kayihura was enrolled in St. Mary’s College Kisubi for his Advanced Level education.

Kayihura graduated in 1978 from Makerere University with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. and proceeded to the London School of Economics for a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in 1982 at just 26 years.

Military Service

Gen Kayihura clad in UPDF military uniform

In 1982, following his graduation from the University of London, Kayihura joined the National Resistance Army, a rebel outfit that fought the regime of Milton Obote II and captured power in 1986.

He became an aide to Gen Caleb Akandwanaho, alias Salim Saleh, who was then the commander of the Mobile Brigade.

In late 1985, he was appointed the head of an anti-smuggling unit in areas that the NRA had captured. He led that position until the NRA rebels captured power.

President Museveni deployed him to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) for three years.
At the same time, he was the staff officer in the office of the assistant minister of Defence and a member of the Tender Board.

In 1988, he was promoted to the rank of Captain from Junior Officer Class II. He became the acting chief political commissar and later the Director of Political Education of the army, a position he held for eight years.

In 1998, he was appointed the military assistant to President Museveni for a year before assigning him to head the anti-smuggling unit called the Special Revenue Police Service.

In November 2005, he was promoted to the rank of Major General and appointed the Inspector General of Police replacing Gen Katumba Wamala a position he held up to 2017 when he was dropped.

President Museveni promotes Kayihura


Gen Kayihura is largely perceived (amongst Uganda’s political circles and a large section of the population) as working for and promoting Museveni’s personal interests through the squashing of Museveni’s political opponents.

During the 2016 general elections, he was behind the implementation of the controversial Public Order Management Act (POMA) which largely targeted opposition politicians and their rights to assemble.

He has, in most cases appeared to be ruthless while dealing with opposition political protests. Kayihura infamously admitted before the media that he had sanctioned the beatings of supporters of Dr Kizza Besigye, a leading opposition figure and four-time presidential candidate in Uganda.

A team of private lawyers also separately filed a criminal case against Kale Kayihura and other senior commanders for their involvement in the July 2016 beatings.

Criminal summonses were issued by the magistrate court for the IGP and seven other senior officers to appear in court to answer charges of torture but none of them showed up in court.

These proceedings were later halted by the controversial Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma.

Kayihura sacked as Police Commander

Troubled Kayihura

On 4 March 2018, President Museveni sacked Kayihura and IGP elevated Martin Okoth Ochola, previously the deputy police chief, to Inspector General of Police. On the same day, the late Gen Elly Tumwine replaced Lieutenant General Henry Tumukunde as Security Minister.

This followed widespread outcry from concerned citizens, regarding increased insecurity in the country, with the police cavorting with known criminal gangs. Kidnappings-for-ransom, wanton murders and robberies, including a rash of unexplained tourist deaths; all un-solved, which left the security apparatus clue-less.

Kayihura arrested

Three months after his sacking, Kayihura was on 13 June 2018, arrested from Kampala on suspicion of killing police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi in March 2017. He appeared at the military court in Kampala, Uganda, on 24 August 2018. Uganda’s former police chief.

The NRA Bush war General was released on bail after 76 days in military custody on charges of failure to protect war materials and aiding and abetting kidnapping.

Former IGP, Gen Kale Kayihura, at the General Court Martial in Makindye, Kampala, in 2018. PHOTO | FILE

US Sanctions

On 13 September 2019, Gen Kayihura was sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury for gross violation of Human rights when he was head of the Uganda Police Force (UPF). The sanctions relate to Kayihura’s involvement in instructing the Flying Squad Unit to torture Ugandans at places such as the notorious Nalufenya Special Investigations Center (NSIC) in Jinja, Eastern Uganda.

The sanctions press release stated that “As the IGP for the UPF, Kayihura led individuals from the UPF’s Flying Squad Unit, which has engaged in the inhumane treatment of detainees at the Nalufenya Special Investigations Center (NSIC). Flying Squad Unit members reportedly used sticks and rifle butts to abuse NSIC detainees, and officers at NSIC are accused of having beaten one of the detainees with blunt instruments to the point that he lost consciousness. Detainees also reported that after being subjected to the abuse they were offered significant sums of money if they confessed to their involvement in a crime.”

Gen Kale Kayihura served as Inspector General of Police since 2005 until 2018 when he was sacked and replaced by IGP Martins Okoth Ochola

The statement further indicated that Kayihura’s property owned in the US or by US Citizens will be blocked and must be reported, “As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of Kayihura, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 per cent or more by him alone or with other designated persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC – Office of Foreign Assets Control.”

Family life

He is married to Angella Kayihura, a Kenyan of Rwandese descent. Angella is the grand-niece of Rudahigwa, the last king of pre-independence Rwanda.

The Kayihuras are the parents of two children. He is reported to own a mixed farm on 350 acres (140 ha) of land in Kabula, Lyantonde District, on which he owns about 500 goats.

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Gen Kayihura has been battling criminal charges in the General Court Martial for allegedly failing to protect war material and kidnapping Rwandan nationals. The cases have since been dropped, according to Gen Kayihura’s close associates.

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