Kampala. An unnamed Ugandan MP led the committee that organised the return of Gen David Sejusa from exile in UK, according to a memo the General sent to members of his Free Uganda (FU) organisation shortly before departing London for Uganda.
Gen Sejusa, who had been in London since April last year, made a surprise return into the country last Sunday, sparking speculation on whether he had struck a deal with President Museveni whose government he had vowed to fight while in exile.
Sunday Monitor has learnt that during the week before Gen Sejusa returned to Uganda, he exchanged several correspondences with the leadership of his organisation, copies of which we have obtained, which he always signed off as Alpha. He cited the need for FU to establish a foothold in Uganda as the reason for his return home.
A close reading of the memos shows that the general had already made up his mind to return to Uganda by the time the email exchange started and only wanted the members of his organisation to approve his decision.
This is because in the exchange that followed his proposal to return home, in which some members of FU expressed fears over his safety and other issues back in Uganda, Gen Sejusa seemed to push a predetermined position.
The memos, however, make no mention of whether he had been given a free pass by the authorities in Kampala to re-enter the country. Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda is the most senior government official to have publicly spoken about Gen Sejusa’s return to the country so far. He told Parliament this week that the government will enter talks with Gen Sejusa.
In one of the emails, Gen Sejusa briefed his colleagues in London that one of them had compared his situation to when former Forum for Democratic Change president Dr Kizza Besigye returned to Uganda from exile in South Africa in 2005.
Besigye was charged with treason in the military court upon his return from exile and campaigned during the 2006 presidential elections while shuttling between court and the electoral field.
The members of Sejusa’s group argued that Dr Besigye’s situation then was better because he had already retired from the army and therefore faced no danger of being accused of breaching the military code of conduct, unlike Gen Sejusa who was still a serving officer.
“I aised the comrade that he is raising a non-issue because in a dictatorship they don’t follow the law,” Gen Sejusa wrote to his group. “I told him that KB (Kizza Besigye) was indeed retired (from the army) but was arrested on treason (charges) and charged in (the General Military)ourt Martial! So of what use was the retirement?” he added.
Gen Sejusa had cited the possibility of being arrested on arrival as the reason he did not return to Uganda on May 9, 2013 as he had earlier indicated, saying army had deployed at Entebbe airport to arrest him on arrival.
He repeated this in his first media interview on returning home last weekend, saying the military deployed at Entebbe airport on the day of his planned return and that his assistants were arrested, forcing him to remain in London.
He, however, did not explain why he decided to return to Uganda this time when the same government is still in charge, although he insisted no deal had been reached between him and the government.
On arrival, however, Gen Sejusa was received at Entebbe Airport by Brig Ronnie Balya, the head of the Internal Security Organisation.
The frantic email exchange in the week leading to Sejusa’s return was kicked off by the General outlining the reasons why he needed to return to Uganda, and quickly. In the first place, he said, the struggle against President Museveni “is entering a critical stage”, asking his colleagues whether staying in exile would benefit them or not.
Secondly, the General wrote, FU leaders were “limited by both money and travel documents,” which he said would easily be dealt with if they relocated to Uganda. He said the absence of a foothold in Uganda negatively affected FU and made it hard for the organisation to shape “the general direction of the struggle.”
Gen Sejusa pointed out funding FU activities as another reason for the need to return home, saying FU funders demanded that the organisation establishes “leadership at the highest level” in Uganda.
He further argued that the struggle against Mr Museveni “is entering a critical phase,” saying that that the timing for his return “must be immediate.”
“If we don’t go now, how do we intend to enter the political process? Suppose Museveni drops dead? Are we going to wait to be invited back? And will you be invited back … by the new force in charge?” Gen Sejusa asked FU members.
He said FU needed to establish structures on the ground in Uganda if they were to succeed, arguing that even when they were fighting with Mr Museveni against Milton Obote’s government, they had Resistance Committees (RCs) as a way of building mass support.
On whether it would be him returning to the country to kick-start FU activities or any other member, Gen Sejusa asked: “Who else can get the following of the youth, army, etc, if Alpha does not go?”
He said that some of the members of his organisation exaggerated the threat he faced if he returned to Uganda, with some seeming to be concerned about his security more than himself.
“The concept of danger is ideologically dangerous,” Gen Sejusa wrote. “It promotes the idea of false security and briefcase strugglists which we must reject. I spent five years in the bushes of Luweero was injured twice, escaped from Obote’s prison and Museveni’s airport last year. These are the dangers liberation leaders must face if they are to lead others to freedom.”
As Gen Sejusa aanced these arguments in the first of his several emails during the last week of his exile in London, he did not initially inform the members right away that he would shortly return home, but only threw about the following teaser in the first email: “Perhaps it’s time some senior leaders went back home to prepare ground. We need to discuss and resolve this.”
“MP leads arrangements”
In the last email before departure, Gen Sejusa wrote: “A homeland committee for my return was set up some weeks ago. It is progressing well. Further progress of its work will be sent in a report on Saturday morning (the day of his departure). This is in-house information, as such keep it as such … The committee is headed by (an) Hon MP [name withheld].”
We were unable to establish which MP Gen Sejusa referred to. The revelation, however, offers another clue on how the General’s return was planned. Available information indicates that President Museveni had, for several months, been trying to get Gen Sejusa to agree to return home and he probably met up with him during one of his trips to London.
Speaking to members of the ruling party’s Central Executive Committee last weekend, President Museveni said, according to sources that attended the meeting, that Gen Sejusa would return to the country because the US and UK had put the President under pressure to allow the General back home.
Prof Amii Omara-Otunnu, the Leader of the diaspora-based FUF, which Gen Sejusa had also joined but later left, said last weekend that Gen Sejusa told him at some point that the government had opened talks with him.
Our information shows that President Museveni kept in touch with some of Gen Sejusa’s family members, imploring them to convince the General to return home. Other top state officials, chiefly Gen Salim Saleh, are also said to have worked hard to convince Gen Sejusa to return home, in addition to officers of both the External and Internal security organisations.
Gen Sejusa was not available to comment for this article.
He says he will grant this newspaper a comprehensive interview at some point.
About Gen Sejusa
Gen Sejusa fled the country at the end of April 2013 after alleging in a letter that there were plans to assassinate him and some other top leaders in the government and army over what he called their opposition to President Museveni’s attempt to have his son, Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to succeed him as president.
While in London, he accused the government of plots to poison its political opponents, citing the death two years ago of Cerinah Nebanda, the former Butaleja Woman MP, as an example. He also alleged that President Museveni had lost the 2006 election to Dr Kizza Besigye but the results were changed to return a win for Mr Museveni.
Gen Sejusa vowed to fight Mr Museveni’s government, explaining in detail how the circumstances in the country made war inevitable. Even then, however, it seems the diplomatic onslaught to try to make him agree to a return never stopped.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor