By Our Reporter
President Yoweri Museveni who is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces on Tuesday dropped long-serving Commandant of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho, replacing him with Former Special Forces Command boss, Maj. Gen. James Birungi.
Kandiho was sent to South Sudan as a defence attaché.
The Commander Land Forces, Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, on Tuesday tweeted: “I congratulate both Maj. General l Kandiho and Maj. General Birungi on their new appointments. Hongera sana.”
At the time of his appointment as CMI boss, Birungi was serving on a special assignment “to monitor on behalf of the guarantors of the South Sudan peace process, the assembling, screening, demobilization and integration of the armed forces of South Sudan”.
Kandiho’s removal comes in the wake of the US government issuing sanctions against him last December for alleged torture and human rights abuses.
The US Treasury Department says that as commander of CMI, Kandiho and other CMI officers targeted individuals due to their nationality, political views, or criticism of the Ugandan government.
The US says individuals were taken into custody and held, often without legal proceedings, at CMI detention facilities where they were subjected to horrific beatings and other egregious acts by CMI officials, including sexual abuse and electrocutions, often resulting in significant long-term injury and even death.
It also said that in some cases, Kandiho was personally involved, leading interrogations of detained individuals. Speaking to local media, Kandiho brushed off the sanctions, saying they were politically motivated and inconsequential, and warned that unilateral punishments imposed by the US risked alienating its allies.
It also comes in the wake of a visit by Lt. Gen. Kainerugaba Rwanda where he met Rwanda President Paul Kagame as the two countries move to normalise relations after almost three years of border closure.
Kandiho had been at the fore of Uganda’s frost relations with neighboring Rwanda, with Rwanda accusing him of targeting their citizens as he launched a series of operations to rid the country of criminal elements.
Kandiho was appointed CMI chief in January 2017 and since his appointment, the army’s intelligence wing has been engaged in a number of operations to rid the country of criminals working together with police.
It, however, remains unclear whether his being replaced was one of the conditions Kagame set for resumption of talks between the two countries.