Who is Lt-Gen Henry Tumukunde

Uganda goes to the polls on January 14, 2021, to choose a president out of 11 candidates.

About 38 years ago, a number of professional military men joined Yoweri Museveni in his “bush war” in Luweero to depose the second Milton Obote government.

They remained comrades in arms over the years after a successful war, but come January, two of these comrades, now retired high ranking military officers will be among the 10 candidates facing Museveni on the ballot, seeking to end his 35-year grip on power. Having former military men run for the presidency is not new in Uganda, where the army has actively influenced the politics.

Lt-Gen Henry Tumukunde

Lt-Gen Henry Tumukunde
Lt-Gen Henry Tumukunde

The former spy chief and security minister Lt-Gen Henry Tumukunde, 61, is a lawyer by profession hailing from western Uganda too.

Together with Jet Tumwebaze and Mugisha Muntu, they joined Museveni in the bush immediately after graduating from Makerere University.

He has served as the army chief of personnel and administration, Chief of Military Intelligence and the Director General of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO).

Between 1995 and 2005, he represented the army in parliament and also served in the constituent Assembly in 1994 as a representative of Rubaabo west.

His cantankerous nature has many times earned him praise from his boss Museveni but also landed him in trouble and eventually his fallout with Museveni.

At an NRM party retreat in 2003, Tumukunde, argued before Museveni and Cabinet against the then impending removal of the constitutional presidential term limits.

He said it was in contravention of the rights that they fought to establish and that he was not willing to take part in what he considered to be grossly unconstitutional behaviour.

He took his argument to parliament and local radio station, and in 2005, he was forced to resign from parliament and was subsequently arrested and court martialled for “uttering statements prejudicial to good discipline and order in the army.”

Read also : I will win the elections and the army will salute me, Gen Tumukunde on NBS Breeze

Mystery murders

After a two-year detention, he was convicted and sentenced to a caution, allowing him to walk free.

He was, however, promoted to lieutenant-general and retired from the army.

He then became one of Museveni’s top mobilisers for the 2016 election and was later appointed minister for Security.

Barely two years later, he was dropped from Cabinet in the middle of public fights with the then Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura and the continued mysterious murders of women, kidnapping of children and assassinations of public figures in Kampala metropolitan area.

He surprised everyone when in March, he announced his candidature for the presidency.

Combining forces

He immediately became a media darling, appearing on television and radio talk shows until his arrest for treason, for allegedly insinuating on television that a foreign country should help topple Museveni.

He is running as an independent candidate under the pressure group Renewed Uganda and has been calling for a single opposition force to oust Museveni.

His supporters say Tumukunde is a mobilisation expert and the opposition can gain from working with him.

Read also : Who is Maj-Gen Mugisha Muntu

Frank Fremer is a seasoned journalist, blogger and political analyst for over a decade in Uganda

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