Tinyefuza Return – Deal or No Deal?

Gen Sejusa’s UK-based political group says they are bringing the struggle home but sources say he has struck a deal

Under the cover of darkness on Saturday night, a British Airways flight touched down at Entebbe International Airport. On it was the renegade former coordinator of intelligence services, Gen David Tinyefuza a.k.a Sejusa, who fled the country 18 months ago.

His lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuzi, and the Director General of Internal Security Organization (ISO), Col Ronnie Barya, were at hand to receive him.

“Yes, I was at the airport as his lawyer to receive him,” Rwakafuzi confirmed on Sunday.

The quiet, unannounced return of a man who while in exile declared that he would fight to overthrow the Museveni government has left people astonished.

While there was talk of heavy deployment at the airport when he was first expected to return in May 2013, this time there was nothing of the sort, leading to suggestions that he has cut a deal with the government.

“Though I had no instructions to tell the public, there have been ongoing talks between my client and Uganda government delegations in London,” Joseph Luzige, another lawyer representing Sejusa, told The Observer on Sunday.

Luzige declined to name members of the government delegations he was referring to but one source named Uganda’s Ambassador to Burundi, Brig Matayo Kyaligonza, and President Museveni’s controversial press secretary, Tamale Mirundi.

According to this source, the government agreed not to institute any charges against him, as well as release his supporters who have been arrested from time to time since he fled.

If indeed there was such a deal, it wouldn’t be the first time Sejusa has capitulated after falling out with the regime he helped install in 1986 following his heroics as a guerrilla fighter. In 1997, Sejusa fell out with President Museveni’s government and resigned from the army but following several years in the cold, and after the Supreme Court blocked his retirement, he pleaded for forgiveness and returned to the fold.

His latest fallout was after he wrote a letter to the ISO director general, alleging a plot to eliminate senior government officials opposed to a plan to install Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba as his father’s successor.

No deal?

Vincent Magombe, press secretary of the foreign-based Free Uganda (FU), said in a statement posted on facebook that Sejusa, the political group’s chairman, had not negotiated any deal with the government. He said Sejusa’s return was part of a well thought out strategy to bring the FU struggle inside the country.

“After serious consideration and consultations within the FU leadership, activists and supporters outside and inside Uganda, FU has decided to relocate to Uganda to continue the struggle for change while based on the ground,” Magombe said in the statement.

“Accordingly, an aance party led by the FU chairman Gen Sejusa arrived in Uganda last night, and were met by Gen Sejusa ‘s lawyer [Rwakafuzi]. FU has come home to continue the struggle with all other opposition forces. This will be made clear in the statement to be issued by the FU chairman in the next few days,” Magombe added.

The statement further said that with Sejusa’s return, Uganda should brace for a “new and new more intense phase of the struggle.”

However, political analysts we spoke to have pointed to his decision to come announced, without fanfare and the timing just a day before the NRM delegates’ conference perhaps to lessen the media impact, as signs of a deal. On arrival at Entebbe, Sejusa was driven to his Naguru residence before heading out to his upcountry home in Nkoma village, Lugusuulu sub-county, Sembabule district.

Driving in a car that once belonged to his late father Canon Simon Peter Bwajojo, Sejusa arrived at Nkoma at about 7am on Sunday. According to Lugusuulu sub-county chairman Fred Karakure, residents were engulfed in fear when news of Sejusa’s presence started spreading.

“I received quite a number of calls from various people asking me about his presence, until I went to his place and found him there,” Karakure told The Observer.

To Karakure’s surprise, the state security apparatus in the area appeared unbothered about Sejusa’s presence, with no visible deployment at the home. As the news continued to spread, a sizable crowd of mainly relatives converged at his home they exchanged pleasantries for some time before Sejusa retired to his bed.

Sejusa speaks:

But that was not before he allowed journalists a short question and answer session in which he was reluctant to divulge details regarding his unexpected return.

“I told Ugandans that I will be coming back before Christmas,” he said.

Sejusa added that he had returned to the country as a civilian, having been disarmed before he left the country, according to him. Asked why he chose to return a day to the NRM delegates’ conference, Sejusa said his return had nothing to do with NRM because he is not a member of the party that he said belongs to President Museveni and former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.

“I pledge to continue standing by the truth. I feel sorry about the media houses that were raided and closed because of me,” Sejusa said, referring to Daily Monitor and Red Pepper whose offices were closed for 10 days for writing about his controversial letter.

Contrary to a statement by his Free Uganda group, Sejusa himself appeared to confirm that his return was an outcome of negotiations with the government.

“I told them that instead of keeping the country on tension because of my being in exile, they should let me come back and retire, because I am a citizen of this country,” Sejusa said.

He said following the stampede that followed his first attempt to return in May 2013, it became clear that he either had to return peacefully or force his way back.

“So, even my mobilisation was dictated onto me, because it’s aersity which gives you the way. It was not by choice. But once you are denied free and peaceful entry, then you must get another alternative.”

He further said that “with time, I think, it became clear for both government and everybody else that there is no way you can keep a citizen outside the country. And in any case if there are issues to be answered, even if there were mistakes that were committed earlier, you allow the person to come and process the explanation.”

When I arrived at the airport, Sejusa continued, “I met several soldiers who were in charge of the operation but I had invited my lawyer Rwakafuzi following a rumour that I was to be arrested.”

His unexpected return has left several political players, particularly the opposition, guessing whether there was a deal or not. Wafula Oguttu, leader of opposition, said on his facebook page:

“Yes, the general was always going to return home at some point in time. The questions we should be asking are, under what circumstances has he returned. Has he once again abandoned the struggle for change?”

Yet his family couldn’t care less about the politics. His brother Obadiah Tumwine promptly offered a bull for the family to celebrate Sejusa’s return from exile.

Reporting by Sadab Kittata Kaaya, Siraje Lubwama, and Ali Mambule.

Source : The Observer

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