March 5, 2018 / 5:37 AM / a year ago

Ugandan minister, police chief sacked as anger mounts over crime wave

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni attends the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 28, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda’s President has sacked his security minister and police chief after authorities faced a wave of criticism for failing to solve a series of murders and other crimes.

Public anger mounted after a young woman from a wealthy family was abducted in the capital Kampala last month, held for nearly three weeks and then murdered, even after a ransom was paid.

Newspaper articles, radio call-in shows and social media postings heaped criticism in particular on police chief Kale Kayihura.

Museveni said late on Sunday he had replaced Kayihura with deputy police chief Okoth Ochola, and named army general Elly Tumwine to replace security minister Henry Tumukunde.

The veteran leader did not spell out his reasons in his message on Twitter. But government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said on Monday the decision was linked to the failure to carry out investigations, especially “when these investigations point inwards either to police officers’ involvement or complicity.”

The sacked security minister and the police chief were not immediately available for comment. Both fought alongside Museveni in a five-year guerrilla war that brought him to power in 1986.

Last month two foreigners, Terasvouri Tuomas Juha Petteri from Finland, and Nordlarndar Sebastien Andreas from Sweden, were found dead in their rooms at two hotels in the capital.

Police said they were treating their deaths as murders.

Kayihura has also attracted public criticism for a police crackdown on opposition activists, often breaking up rallies with teargas, beatings and detentions.

Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Andrew Heavens

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