KAMPALA (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury has frozen all assets in the United States owned by the former inspector general of Ugandan police, Kale Kayihura, accusing him of engaging in serious human rights abuses in the East African nation.
Kayihura, who served in that post from 2005 to March 2018 when he was sacked by President Yoweri Museveni, has also been banned from travelling to the United States. Uganda is one of the key allies of the United States in the region.
Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, accused Kayihura of using corruption and bribery to strengthen his political position, while units under his command committed "serious human rights abuses".
"The U.S. government is committed to leveraging our human rights and corruption authorities to target, disrupt, and counter those who engage in abuse and corruption around the world," Mandelker said.
Kayihura's lawyer, Alison Karuhanga, told Reuters that Kayihura had not seen any statements from the United States and defended his tenure.
"His command of the Ugandan Police was under the Ugandan law and he is ready to answer to any allegations and defend his record of that leadership," she said.
Kayihura, who holds the rank of a general in the Ugandan military, was the longest serving head of police in the country.
When he was in office, he was routinely denounced by the opposition for breaking up their rallies with tear gas and detaining Museveni's opponents.
Kayihura was detained for months after he was sacked and later released on bail. He is currently being tried by a military court for allegations of illegally repatriating Rwandan refugees.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Toby Chopra)