On Sunday December 14, WBS TV aired excerpts from an interview that journalist Timothy Sibasi had with Gen David Sejusa, hours after his quiet return to the country.
Sadab Kitatta Kaaya transcribed, in detail, the interview, in which the former coordinator of intelligence services speaks about his life in exile, what prompted him to return home and why he wants out of the army immediately. Below are the excerpts:
Talk about your life in [exile]
My life was… I must thank the British, they are a very decent people because when I [went] to London, I was not prepared for exile life. I had just gone [on] a routine visit and I was coming back when they [government] deployed at the airport… really I was not prepared, but it was made possible for me to stay [in London], later on my wife and my children [joined me].
But it was not an easy life because life in exile initially, especially when you have been in government and so on, it is like a shock, although for me it wasn’t such a big thing because I have a history of fighting in the bush I am a warrior. Just before I left, I had spent two weeks in Buliisa, I was staying in a tent, and these Bagungu can tell you I was in a tent in the middle of mosquitoes. In the tent I was the so-called what I was [coordinator of intelligence services] until I resolved that question.
So, London was not a very big problem other than security: state agents who were following me many times actually, but the British had to put me under protection so, that was resolved. Another problem of exile is that you are not in your country and you cannot do what you want to do but somehow, my life in exile helped me to organize because when the government stopped me from coming back, I was left with no option except to also start mobilising.
So, it is really them who dictated how I should react because it is always your aersary who defines your methods of resistance. It is not by choice because I either had to stay in exile forever or I had to mobilise a counter force.
Much of my life in London, I was an activist. I was mobilizing I formed a political platform, Free Uganda, which is really a political platform for all groups in the country to build capacity to change things for the better. To… set plans, to work on discipline approaches of bringing about change, of trying to galvanize popular awareness of trying to deal with some of these divisive issues and I found it even in exile.
Your disunity here goes even in exile. So that was the narrative having for the first time to immerse myself in the political waters. But I learnt a lot in exile because it helped me to [begin looking at things] in another way other than what I was doing. It also helped me to look at myself, which I think was a wonderful time of regeneration and recasting and seeing whether there is a better way of doing things.
Although I had talked about many things over a long period of time when I was still here, as you remember, having this time in exile gave me a chance to reflect on the ideals for which people died, for which lives were sacrificed, and also on what our people deserve. Because it is always not about what we [leaders] but it is what you people deserve, which you are entitled to.
Ugandans would be interested in knowing the terms and conditions under which you had [a peaceful] return home (given the statements you had made earlier in the media).
There are no terms I am what I am. I know Ugandans think that… this is the problem with Ugandans… You know oppression creates a situation of looking at things upside down. When you return, people think that you should return because there are conditions, they do not address the question that in the first instance, you are entitled to return.
I was never supposed to be stopped that was an error. That sick deployment which was an embarrassment and a scandal was never supposed to be there, and I am sure the government learnt its lessons over time, and the other time when they did it to Mr [Amama] Mbabazi. These are things that are not sustainable. That type of belligerent actions must stop.
My coming back was bound to happen, the only thing is that I had to weigh two options. The first option which I was working on was the mass popular uprising of the youth and so on, because I would have come either way even if I had to be arrested. I would come to Entebbe and they tear-gas and shoot and arrest but still I would come, and then they would arrest people.
Or make sure that I return as an individual so that I don’t subject my people, my supporters and Ugandans to this brutal force of the police. In that case then, I sacrifice myself other than the people. This is what I chose. I said I will go and try my luck, and I called my lawyer [Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi].
The government was aware because when I [landed] at Entebbe airport, they had deployed. I found there the director general of ISO [Internal security organization Col Ronnie Balya], I found there people from State House… They were trying actually to talk to Immigration and to take my fingerprints and I said that but I am a Ugandan.
I had also called my sister, she was there, and actually it is my lawyer who took me to the car which they had hired. I don’t want to dwell on the conditions [for my return] because that is wasting my time. Why is it [a wastage] of my time?
Resistance is not like abasezi -sorcerers. They do their work in darkness when everybody is asleep. Resistance is done during the day. So, what is your worry? If there was a deal, you will see it , and if there was no deal, you will see it. Don’t dwell on non- issues.
Omukyala bwaba n’olubuto lwa myezi mwenda nga ali kumpi okuzaala then you go and start arguing an’azaalaki? Mulenzi oba Muwala? [There is no need for arguing about the sex of a baby that a woman entering labour will give birth to.] So, forget about it, what I went to do and what I have been believing in.
I am more convinced that I was right than ever before because [of] what is happening in the country, and what is happening inside the National Resistance Movement Organization. The fragmentation of the population, the anger of the youths, you look at them. The things they [said] when they came to see me… it is very worrying. It is not good to allow the country to degenerate into this type of thing.
If you are implying that [I made] a deal to work with Mr Museveni and his government please, I did not, and I can’t, and it means nothing because if I tell that you are drowning, how can I make a deal with you? I can only make a deal with you if you try to look at what I am telling you so that we don’t capsize.
Absolutely, if Mr Museveni was to say today that we engage in a process where he will carry out these reforms and do things which will save the country, he will have all my support because that is what we want. My aim is not to burn the country but he must get out of his way to make sure that he moves from the comfort zone.
Do you stand by what you said when you were leaving the country… that there [should be an investigation of] a plan to assassinate you, Mbabazi and Gen Aronda [Nyakairima, the minister for Internal Affairs]?
I don’t think the problem was that I think the problem was how it was handled. There is nothing wrong with writing an internal memo as a head of an organization, requiring the director general [of ISO] to investigate some of those things. These are things we always do, but these are confidential things which we write about. There is no one above suspicion in the country.
[According to the] Constitution, it is only the president who cannot commit treason because he cannot commit treason against himself. Any other person can commit treasSierra Leone, and I went to Sierra Leone to investigate war crimes.
I was invited to Washington to give a keynote address on environmental law and conventional weapons. I had gone into the academia. I no longer wanted to [remain in the army] because when I joined the army [at 24 years], I was not a career soldier I was a political animal who had political views about democracy, about good governance.
Having achieved that… I no longer have the space [in the army] as a political animal, I should have been left to go and do other things because I had served my country. Unfortunately, I was not allowed but I hope that this time [I should be left] because I can be of use to this country differently, other than boxing me into the salute thing. I think I can be of use, as long as God still gives me good health. As you can see the bazungu have looked after me very well.
People are asking why return on [the eve] of the NRM delegates’ conference. Are we seeing you attending the delegates’ conference?
No I can’t attend the NRM delegates’ conference because I am not a member I would be arrested for trespass. I have never been a [not]member [of NRM]. In fact, I am not among the founders of NRM-O, serving soldiers are not members of the National Resistance Movement organization we were members of National Resistance Movement of our army [NRA] days.
In the bush, I was a member of the Popular Resistance Army [PRA] and then we joined with Prof [Yusuf Kironde] Lule’s Uganda Freedom Fighters to make NRM, and we had NRC [National Resistance Council] which was the political organization.
In 2005, after the referendum to open up the political space which I [fought] for during the CA [Constituent Assembly], NRM ceased to exist and a new political organization called NRM-O was born, and serving soldiers were not members.
So any serving member of the UPDF, whom you [saw] in Namboole is breaking the Constitution, as a partisan officer because NRM-O is not for the soldiers it is a political organization. I am not going to Namboole, but I [returned] to also enjoy my freedoms.
What would be the fate of your political group Free Uganda that you launched in London?
Free Uganda has already issued a statement, its press secretary and acting secretary of the leadership committee, Dr Vincent Magombe, they sat [on Sunday] and issued a communiqueacute about my coming because we discussed this at length with them both in Europe and here internally that time had come to shift our focus from exile to home. In a short time, many of them will start coming home.
Source : The Observer