16 May 2013

Uganda: Army Has Many Tinyes - Muntu

A security crackdown on Gen David Sejusa (formerly Tinyefuza), will take away the controversy over his statements, former Army Commander Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu warned today.

Muntu, also president of the opposition FDC, told The Observer in an interview that more soldiers would continue to speak out like Sejusa as the country hurtles down toward the tipping point of a national crisis.

"To only pick out this [Sejusa] event is to miss the bigger picture. We are going to see more incidents of this nature. But once there are un-democratic tendencies and you suppress those who speak out, initially you could cover it up but there is a cumulative point where they [regime] cannot stand the weight and the country can implode," said Muntu, just back from Europe, where Sejusa is. "The situation has infiltrated the State security apparatus and that is very dangerous," he argued.

However, Army spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda today dismissed talk of a crisis in the UPDF. The army, he said, was one of the democratic institutions with soldiers free to express their views.

"The comments are unfair and not a true reflection of the UPDF...," Ankunda said. "We have different fora like the High Command, through which officers can express their views. We also have mkutano wa hadhara [meeting for soldiers] where they speak freely."

Sejusa caused a storm last week, following publication of a letter in which he demanded an investigation into an alleged plot to frame and possibly kill key figures allegedly opposed to a Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba presidency.

The outburst, has since triggered an explosive response from the government, and showed that beneath the façade of calm within the army, lies a latent power struggle. The state now says Sejusa is being investigated for treason, while the general has openly accused President Museveni and his son Muhoozi of planting spies in his office.

No surprise:

But Muntu is not surprised by the regime's high-handedness in dealing with the furore over Sejusa's statement, describing it as a "mode of operation". Speculation is rife that if Sejusa returns, he will be arrested on treason charges. At least four of his aides have been arrested. Muntu says this reflects a state of denial.

"Senior army officers in positions of command should start working on scenario-building to know that if this happens, we can react in this way. Security services should know the situation they are dealing with collectively. If they don't, then they will be groping in the dark. They need to be on top of the situation to avert this crisis," he said.

This echoes what Muntu said on January 26, 2012, when he spoke of the proverbial fly that followed its master to the grave. He told a political rally in Kawempe, that senior UPDF and police officers should not behave like foolish flies that get buried with a corpse. The proverb rattled many feathers in the army, which Muntu commanded for nine years.

The Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Aronda Nyakairima, responded then by expressing regret for having worked under Muntu from 1986 to 1997, adding that Muntu's comments would "not deter us from what we are doing". Gen Elly Tumwine, who represents the army in Parliament, also accused Muntu of abusing the UPDF.

In January 2013, Muntu said it would be foolish and counterproductive if the army stages a coup, following remarks by President Museveni and other officials, that the army could stage a coup if politicians misbehaved.

"Mr President, you need to know that there is still life outside power and to also recognize that there are many Ugandans who can ably run this country," Muntu said.

Gen Sejusa is known to be politically ambitious, and speculation is rife that he could, at some point, seek to quit the army with a view to contesting the presidency - something that Muntu is known to aspire to.

Copyright © 2013 The Observer. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.