On Sunday, 31st January, 2016, Ugandan security forces arrested a former intelligence chief who is an outspoken critic of President Yoweri Museveni. The arrest came after a two and half hour search of his home by UPDF (the Ugandan army). General David Sejusa also known as Tinyefunza has referred to President Museveni as a dictator many times in the past.
The President who has ruled Uganda since 1986, when he led a group of rebels and waged war against a government accused of rigging elections, had Sejusa as one of the senior commanders of the rebels. Sejusa went on to become a four star general, was high on military command and led both Uganda’s domestic and external spy agencies.
With such a history together, it’s no wonder the President is uncomfortable with Sejusa’s open accusations, where he insists that President Museveni has violated the ideals for which they had waged the guerrilla war. The arrest of the general is sure to raise questions and tensions ahead of the February 18 scheduled elections. Museveni is one of the eight contenders in the February 18 vote. He runs alongside top contenders like Kizza Besigye standing for the fourth time and former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi who the President fired in September 2014.
This is not the first time Sejusa is facing arrest. In 2013, he wrote a letter to the domestic spy chief urging him to open up investigations into an alleged plot to kill top government officials who were seen as being opposed to the political rise of Museveni’s son, a brigadier who commands the country’s special forces. With the threat of arrest very imminent, Sejusa who was travelling through Europe at the time, sought asylum in London, only returning quietly in December 2014. He’s also been arrested previously on accusations of holding illegal gatherings.
By way of an explanation, Uganda say’s it is investigating the ex-intelligence chief over possible links to groups planning unrest if the President succeeds in extending his 30 year rule following the elections this month. In an emailed statement sent in on Monday, government spokesman, Ofwono Opondo in the same emailed statement where the explanation was derived also said “If found to be true, appropriate actions will certainly be taken to curtail and neutralize his activities.”
The spokesman also warned foreign diplomats to refrain from undue meddling into the country’s politics, saying that the government seeks “mutual respect to its sovereignty in accordance with international laws, norms and practices.” He advises that they instead address issues through diplomatic channels. General Sejusa is in court today for his trial and interested factions are watching to see what charges will be brought against him; the first of which was a charge of absence without leave, referring to his 2013 exile. Where will all this end for General David Sejusa?