KAMPALA – Presidential hopeful, Lieutenant General (Rtd.) Henry Tumukunde has Thursday evening reportedly been arrested by a combined team of the Special Forces Command and JATT.
Tumukunde posted an update on his twitter and Facebook accounts, informing the public of how the military had surrounded his home and office. It was later announced that he had been arrested.
Media reports in Uganda’s capital, Kampala say the retired General will be charged in the General Court-Martial on Friday, March 13, 2020, on yet to be known charges.
Gen Tumukunde recently wrote to the Electoral Commission asking for clearance to consult the electorate in preparation for his nomination as a presidential candidate later this year.
“My consultations will therefore target various interest groups in the country with a view of facilitating my decisions ahead of nominations of presidential candidates slated for October 2020. I will communicate those decisions to the EC as soon as possible in any case during the time frame prescribed in the relevant laws…” the general said in his two-page letter to EC dated February 28, 2020.
“I join other well-meaning Ugandans to support the fundamental change, which we promised Ugandans in the past and a peaceful transition from one generation to another…While I expect the support that EC can offer me and my team to carry out peaceful consultations as a presidential aspirant, I pray that the statutory mandate of the EC shall be respected by other organs of the state and that there will be harmony throughout this important constitutional exercise,” he added.
According to well-placed sources, Gen. Tumukunde planned to announce his presidential bid in April – four months to the proposed nomination dates, but his plan was scuttled once the intelligence services got wind of it and alerted their commander-in-chief.
Mr. Museveni responded by ordering the withdrawal of all Gen. Tumukunde’s army guards, a strange precedent given that he is entitled to security as a retired general. Besides the military escorts and a UPDF lead car, the former spy chief also had military guards at home and office, along Impala Avenue, Kololo.
Recently, a group of veterans warned Tumukunde over what they described as a violation of the UPDF code of conduct.
The group of about 100 veterans led by Capt. James Lukabwe made the remarks while speaking to journalists at G-One Hotel in Rubaga, Kampala.
“As retired soldiers, we are governed by the army code of conduct. We are not supposed to reveal vital information to the public about operations conducted during the guerrilla war. We are disappointed to see Tumukunde breaching our code of conduct,” Lt. Ali Byakatonda, one of the veterans, said.
He cautioned Tumukunde against spreading falsehoods against President Yoweri Museveni and making reckless comments regarding the National Resistance Army bush war.
Gen. Tumukunde’s interest in the presidency is not new. In 2003, during a retreat at the National Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi, then a Brigadier, Tumukunde who also doubled as an Army MP infuriated President Museveni when he openly criticized the “third-term project” tailored largely to amend the Constitution and remove presidential term limits. That project handed Museveni a termless presidency.
His opposition to the amendment led Gen. Tumukunde to lose his seat in Parliament in May 2005, a month before MPs took the controversial vote to amend the Constitution.
In days that followed, Gen. Tumukunde was arrested and subsequently charged with abuse of office, military misconduct and spreading harmful propaganda.
The abuse of office charges was later dropped but the state maintained the other charges. The General Military Court-martial, which tried him till April 2013, later sentenced him to severe reprimand.
In September 2015, Gen. Tumukunde who was at the rank of Brigadier was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and subsequently retired from the army before Museveni deployed him to neutralize former prime minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s 2016 presidential campaign network.
Museveni named Gen. Tumukunde in his post-2016 election cabinet as security minister giving him an opportunity to fell Police Chief Gen Kale Kayihura who commanded the soldiers that arrested him (Tumukunde) in 2005. Both men were later dropped from the government in March 2018.