Did Sejusa Have to Live in Exile? [editorial]

The unexpected return of General David Sejusa from exile in the United Kingdom after 18 months has gripped the country.

The nature of his return has led to speculation that he could have reached a deal with the government to clear the way for him. Deal or no deal, Sejusa is a Ugandan who is entitled to live in his country.

He should not have gone into exile in the first place. If what drove him there is what has been reported in the press, he was merely expressing himself. Moreover, the Constitution of Uganda guarantees freedom of speech and expression.

No Ugandan should be exiled, more so for expressing himself. If any law has been broken, that is what the courts are there for. However, it is clear that soldiers like Sejusa subscribe to a strict code of rules, which may not permit them, among other things, to speak on controversial political matters freely.

While that still doesn’t justify exile, it’s important for UPDF to address the now widespread view expressed by Sejusa and others, that many officers like him are being kept in the army against their wish as a political control measure.

Army rules must be followed, but at the same time it doesn’t make sense for the institution to hold onto long-serving officers like Sejusa who have expressed a desire to leave. It’s worse in the case of senior officers who have not held a position in the army for up to 10 years and yet remain ‘serving’ officers.

Perhaps if Sejusa was a civilian, he would have said whatever he had to say and not gone to exile for it. A regime of many former exiles cannot be seen to be creating conditions that make certain Ugandans feel safer only outside the country’s borders.

Source : The Observer

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