Comments from a wide section of the army rank-and-file may influence Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga as she reviews Gen David Sejusa's recent request for an extension to his official leave from Parliament. Kadaga may be days away from announcing her decision after seeking the army's opinion, but some senior army officers are beginning to voice their view points.
Gen Elly Tumwine said in an interview on Thursday that it would be improper to keep Sejusa in Parliament because he had engaged in subversive actives. He said the mere reference to Sejusa as a renegade UPDF officer was enough to disqualify him from Parliament.
"Being a renegade means that one is engaged in subversive activities against the government," Gen Tumwine said.
Tumwine, like Sejusa, is one of the 10 army representatives in Parliament, and a member of the UPDF High Command. His views are likely to influence army chief Gen Katumba Wamala's response to Kadaga's letter inquiring about the Sejusa's status in the UPDF.
"The law doesn't provide for an absentee MP, and given the utterances he is making against the government, he can't qualify to be someone who is on official parliamentary work. Is he getting allowances to discredit the government? I think the law must be followed," Tumwine said.
Sejusa has been in the spotlight since April, after he penned a dossier, in which he demanded an investigation into a rumoured plot to kill top army and government officials opposed to the alleged presidential ambitions of Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Muhoozi is President Museveni's son and the head of the elite Special Forces Command. The government and the army have denied that there is any plan to groom him for the presidency.
Since he left the country, Sejusa has spoken out against the NRM government in interviews with international media. In an interview last week, UPDF Spokesman Paddy Ankunda confirmed that the Speaker had written to the chief of defence forces asking whether Sejusa was still the army representative in Parliament.
"We will give our advice as soon as we complete consultations, we shall forward it to Parliament," Lt Col Ankunda said. "For now he has not been declared absent without leave, he is still a serving army officer. My friend, do you think you can just fire him like that? He is counted as a member of the UPDF and one of its representatives in Parliament."
He said the army High Command would soon meet to decide the general's fate. Sejusa, who has been out of the country since April, recently wrote through his lawyer Joseph Luzige, asking for a further extension of his leave from the house.
Kadaga's letter followed reports that the army leadership was planning to replace Sejusa as one of its representatives in Parliament. Sejusa's current three-month leave extension expired on August 24. This is the second time Sejusa is asking for an extension since he left the country around April 29 on a three weeks leave.
Whereas Kadaga had no trouble granting Sejusa's first request (on May 20) for a three months extension, it may not be easy this time round. A source in Kadaga's office has told us that much as it is within her mandate to grant the extension, she is handling this new request with a lot of caution.
"An Army MP is not like these ordinary MPs (for which the Speaker can freely decide), the army's chain of command is different and as one of the organs of government, she had to consult them before taking a decision," the source said.