General David Sejusa, better known as Tinyefuza, was today looking increasingly isolated, as the UPDF and the elite Special Forces Command struggled to come to terms with his latest utterances.
The army was jolted awake on Tuesday when one of its highest-ranking members, Gen Sejusa, lent credence to an internet rumour, that some officers planned to eliminate government officials opposed to an alleged plan to propel President Museveni's son, Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to the presidency.
The SFC, which Muhoozi heads, responded with hammer and tongs to Sejusa's statements, published in Daily Monitor newspaper.
"The procedures of becoming a head of state in Uganda are well-known and stipulated in the Constitution; So, what mysterious project can impose somebody on Ugandans without going through the clearly laid down procedures in the Constitution?" Capt Edison Kwesiga, the spokesman of the SFC told The Observer in an interview today. The Observer had called Muhoozi to respond to the latest storm. But the president's son chose to speak through Kwesiga.
And Kwesiga minced no words: "If at any time Muhoozi decides to enter into politics, he will have to first retire from the army, then stand for elective office. So, what magical mystery project is that which Gen Tinyefuza is talking about?"
Gen Sejusa was today reported to have urged the director general of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), Col Ronnie Balya to investigate the claims. He alluded to reports circulating on the internet that top military officers planned to bump him off, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen Aronda Nyakairima.
But Gen Aronda, a supposed victim of this plot, today sent out a terse message to the outspoken Sejusa. Aronda warned that in UPDF there were no sacred cows and any serving officer who went against the law, would be dealt with accordingly.
"Given that Gen Sejusa is a serving officer of the UPDF, he should be aware that all officers and militants of UPDF are subject to military law. They are also bound to be faithful to and bear true allegiance to the president by virtue of the oath of allegiance they take... The statement he allegedly issued, therefore, not only contravenes the law but also contradicts that of the president issued to the media earlier," Aronda warned.
He argued that Sejusa's letter "champions the agenda of the radical and anarchic political opposition, hence rendering him partisan, contrary to Article 208 of the Constitution of Uganda."
He also drew parallels between Sejusa's comments and the 1999 letter authored by the doyen of opposition politics, Dr Kizza Besigye, before he eventually fell out with the ruling party. Besigye's dossier titled, "An insider's view of how NRM lost the broad-base," chronicled the malaise of factionalism, manipulation, corruption and greed dogging and eating up the NRM. The army attempted to court martial the author but backed down as a result of a stiff public outcry.
"Similar arguments have in the recent past been raised by some members of the radical political opposition, and in particular Dr Kizza Besigye, with clear intention to divide the UPDF," he said.
Aronda said the president had taken time off to explain his son's role within the Special Forces Command (SFC) which he heads. Museveni gave this position after Besigye had accused the president of rapidly promoting his son and favourably placing him as the Commander of SFC to ascend to the Holy Grail.
"The President and the Commander- in - Chief has had the occasion to give a clear response to those falsehoods and educate the public about the historical role of the Special Forces in UPDF," reads Aronda's letter.
In his letter, Sejusa claims that through Col Balya, he delivered a message to the president, in which he highlighted the intelligence concerns about the likely consequences of what the public has dubbed the "Muhoozi project".
Sejusa argues that the issue is becoming divisive and is creating fertile ground for causing intrigue especially in the UPDF. Aronda argued that Sejusa should have addressed his concerns through the right forum like the High Command, where he is a member.
"Some officers like Gen Sejusa have on different occasions given a wrong impression to the general public that they are exempted from seeking authorization before making public statements. This is wrong," said Aronda.
Capt Kwesiga said Sejusa's statements should be treated with the contempt that they deserve... All those statements are reprehensible; they are false, and incorrect. If people are saying that he [Muhoozi] is going to run for president, does that make it true? In a democracy, how do you impose someone one people?
He said that since the Luweero bush war, the NRA and now UPDF has never used assassination to eliminate its opponents.
"Assassination was one of the methods available to NRA but it was never pursued as something legitimate. It always believed in confronting enemies on the battle field," said Kwesiga.
He also denied claims that the Mbuya barracks attack was a ruse to implicate senior army officers and politicians in plans to overthrow government.
"Those who conducted the Mbuya attack are known and they are in custody. They will have their day in court. To make such allegations is simply astounding," he said.
Previously Sejusa has also spoken out against what he called the "creeping lawlessness, impunity, primitive arrogance and insensitive behaviour" among "some actors who manage the affairs of the state". The army largely ignored his comments, arguing that as a senior army officer and senior presidential adviser on military affairs, he was within the confines to speak out.
However, his latest outburst brings in sharp focus the position he holds. Sources in the army claim that, "Although Sejusa is the coordinator of intelligence services, his position is largely amorphous without any bearing on the covert and overt operations of the army."
It's perhaps what could be the cause of the latest undercurrents within the army, military sources claim.
"... the reason I have written this letter, is in regard to the very serious allegations that have appeared in the press that IGP, Brig MK, Gen SS, one Kellen and others hatched an evil and extrajudicial plan of stage-managing the attack on Mbuya barracks [in March] so as to frame some senior members of this government especially I, [Prime Minister] Amama Mbabazi and CDF, Gen Aronda and those perceived to be anti-Brig Muhoozi project.
The first time the document came to the fore, it had allegedly been written by Catherine Dembe, an FDC councillor in Mpigi district. She was reportedly conscripted by Sebina Ssekitoleko, a close confidant of police chief Kale Kayihura, to allege that Amama Mbabazi, Aronda and Tinyefuza were in cahoots with FDC leader Kizza Besigye to overthrow the government.