Uganda: President Museveni Reverses Gen Kandiho’s Transfer to South Sudan, Appoints Him Police CoS. Intel Insights on Possible Implications on Slightly Improved Kampala-Kigali Relations

    Bottom Line Up Front

    • Kandiho’s appointment as Police Chief of Staff comes two weeks after Museveni dropped him as long-serving CMI (Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence) boss on January 25, 2022, replacing him with Former Special Forces Command boss, Maj. Gen. James Birungi.
    • The appointment has been described by some Ugandan media as "coming just hours after President Kagame made hair-raising remarks during the swearing-in of new ministers."
    • The shortlived sacking of Uganda's most poweful spy chief, the then CMI boss, had already been connected to latest efforts by President Museveni to woo his Rwandan counterpart, President Paul Kagame, to repair hostilies between the two East African nations.
    • Although there has been no reaction from Rwanda so far, the return of Gen Kandiho to serve in the top ranks of Uganda Police Force is expected to irk Kigali, and could be a step backward in recent efforts to end hostilities between the two East African neighbours.
    • Keeping Kandiho in Uganda to serve in a top security position allows him access to heightened security. It also allows the former military intelligence general to continue commanding security operations just like at CMI.

    What Happened?

    According to Uganda's Nile Post

    In a twist of events, President Museveni who is also the commander in chief of the armed forces has reversed the earlier appointment of former Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence boss, Maj Gen Abel Kandiho to South Sudan and appointed him to police.
    Gen Kandiho was on January 25, 2022 sent to monitor on behalf of the guarantors, the assembling, screening, demobilization and integration of the armed forces of South Sudan and replaced by Maj Gen James Birungi who had been in Juba.
    However, barely three weeks after the deployment, Museveni has recalled Kandiho from South Sudan and appointed him as the new Chief of Joint Staff in the Uganda Police Force to replace Maj Gen Jack Bakasumba.
    Gen Bakasumba has instead been sent to South Sudan in the position that had been occupied by Maj Gen Kandiho.
    By being deployed in Police, Gen Kandiho joins a host of other UPDF officers deployed in the law and order enforcement body.
    He however brings a wealth of experience especially in terms of carry out intelligence led operations and investigations to the Police force.

    Why has Museveni changed his mind?

    Another Ugandan news outlet ChimpReports related Museveni's change of mind  to some news from  Kigali yesterday, described as "hair-raising."

    Kandiho’s appointment to serve in Uganda’s Police Force came just hours after President Kagame made hair-raising remarks during the swearing-in of new ministers.
    Addressing lawmakers on the status of Rwanda’s relations with Uganda, Kagame said “Uganda has started moving in the right direction…working on the issues that led to the closure of the border.”
    He added: “And we are talking with them monitoring the progress. We are on a good path.”However, he seemed to backtrack on the full reopening of the Gatuna border, saying that will depend on the prevailing Covid-19 situation.“We from both sides opened the border with the covid-19 situation in mind,” said Kagame.
    Rwanda, which is hosting the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in June 2022, is keen on containing the pandemic.However, apart from Gatuna, other border points to Rwanda remain open.
    War comments
    Kagame further told MPs at the Parliament Building on Tuesday afternoon that, “We wish everybody in the region peace, but anyone who wishes us war, we give it to him.”
    He emphasized: “We have professionals capable of executing it. Our doctrine is to fight war on enemy territory because of our small size.”

    Any reaction(s) so far?

    None so far, notociably from Rwandan media, which gave Gen Kandiho's sacking a wider coverage. However, perhaps the most remarkable "silence" is that of outspoken First Son, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who was among the very first to congratulate Gen Kandiho's last appointment.

    At time of going to press, there was no word from the general, regarded by many as heir apparent to President Museveni.

    Conclusion:

    It is too early to try to draw conclusion that Gen Kandiho's return would have adverse impact on ongoing efforts to end hostilities between Kampala and Kigali. However, reactions from the latter, if any, could give hints on the future of relations between Uganda and Rwanda.

    Gen Kandiho Hands over Office to New CMI Boss Gen Birungi | The Kampala Post
    Maj Gen James Birungi has taken over as the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence boss, replacing Maje Gen Abel Kandiho. The ceremony was presided over by the Chief of Defense Forces Gen Wilson Mbadi at the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Mbuya.
    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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