The President of Uganda, Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is confident the State has enough evidence to convict former Security Minister Lt Gen (Rtd) Henry Tumukunde of treason charges related to statements he made urging Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame to support regime change in Uganda.
Tumukunde has been remanded at Luzira Prison since March 2020 after he was formally charged with unlawful possession of fire arms and treason. The former Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) boss told NBS TV’s Morning Breeze Show in early March that it will be better if Rwanda backs opposition forces to remove President Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) government from power.
“If I was Rwanda, I would wish to support people who want to cause change in Uganda,” Tumukunde said during the show.
When he was reading the charges, City Hall magistrate Valerian Tumuhimbise said Tumukunde’s statements during the NBS Show were aimed at “instigating the Republic of Rwanda to Invade the Republic of Uganda to cause change of government.”
The State also charged the former spymaster with unlawful possession of an AK47 rifle, a pistol and 30 rounds of ammunition. Prosecution alleges that Tumukunde, while at Impala Avenue in Kololo, Kampala on March 13, was found with a modified AK47 number 19865-U3618 without holding a valid firearm certificate.
Prosecution also claims that on the same day (March 13) and place (Impala Avenue, Kololo in Kampala), Tumukunde was found in illegal possession of a star pistol number EL-860030 that he didn’t have a certificate for contrary to Section 3(1) of the Fire Arms Amendment Act Cap 299.
Tumukunde’s arrest and detention came a few weeks after he announced his plan to challenge President Museveni in the 2021 general elections. His attempts to get bail have been futile with court questioning the substantiality of his sureties, and prosecution arguing that he would use his influence to sabotage investigations once he is granted bail.
Political analysts have been arguing that the charges were just an excuse to cripple Tumukunde’s presidential ambitions. They argue that Museveni’s government has an experience of charging potential contenders with treason. Examples of Museveni’s opponents who have been charged and detained for treason charges include opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye, Kyadondo East MP and singer-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine. Tumukunde should therefore not expect to be an exception, analysts further argue.
But Museveni has told NBS TV in an interview that Tumukunde had forgotten that while he has rights and freedoms, they come with responsibilities and limits. He also expressed confidence that there is enough evidence to ensure that Tumukunde faces the long arm of the law for his utterances that seemed to encourage Rwanda to destabilise Uganda.
“Tumukunde went beyond that, and there is evidence to deal with that,” Museveni, for whom Tumukunde campaigned during the 2016 presidential election, said.
It should be remembered that Tumukunde’s ‘treasonous’ comments came at a time when Uganda and Rwanda were having strained relations with President Paul Kagame and Museveni accusing each other of planning to destabilize either country by supporting rebel groups.