Who is Maj-Gen Mugisha Muntu

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.

Maj-Gen Mugisha Muntu

Maj-Gen Mugisha Muntu
Maj-Gen Mugisha Muntu

The former army commander Maj-Gen Muntu, 62, is soft spoken, with a distinct moustache and always smartly dressed.

The retired military officer hails from western Uganda and is running on the Alliance for National transformation (ANT) party card, which he founded in March.

Bush war comrades

A son of a staunch supporter of former president Milton Obote, Muntu, to the surprise of his father and Obote, joined Museveni’s bush war right after graduating from university and helped the current government capture power in 1986.

He went on to head military Intelligence that year with personalities like the current Rwandan President Paul Kagame under his command.

His closeness to Museveni saw his fast rise through the ranks, much to the chagrin of other senior commanders.

He later served as the Commander of the Army, the highest position in the Ugandan military, from 1989 to 1998.

His fallout with Museveni started around 1995 after his stint as a member of the Constituent Assembly which enacted the 1995 Constitution. They disagreed on the military and political approach, that saw his removal from military command and appointment as minister which he rejected, quit and went on to join the opposition.

He represented Uganda in the East African Legislative Assembly in 2001.

Officer and a gentleman

In 2008, he contested for the Forum for Democratic Change presidency and lost to Dr Kizza Besigye.

Read also : Muntu advises Kibalama on how to outsmart the state.

Following the end of Besigye’s term in 2012, he won the party’s top leadership against Nandala Mafabi.

He served in this capacity from 2012 to 2017 when he and colleagues walked away from the party after he lost the party presidency to Patrick Amuriat Oboi.

Muntu, however, left the party on ideological differences: He had advocated strong party grassroots structures, but the current party leadership opted for defiance against the government.

He was branded a Museveni mole and weak by Besigye loyalists.

Cutting the figure of an officer and a gentleman, Muntu stands for the independence of the country’s institutions

Read also :  I never stole any coin in army – Muntu

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

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