UGANDA’S President Yoweri Museveni has met an outspoken Ugandan general who recently returned to the country after 18 months in self-imposed exile, and was placed under house arrest in a dramatic day of events in the capital Kampala on Friday.
General David Sejusa, a former intelligence chief looked likely to emerge as a potential challenger to veteran president Museveni, had been detained in order to “enforce discipline”, a government spokesman said.
“His conduct since his return from self-imposed exile has been contrary to what is expected of a serving military officer, and the days when army officers acted with impunity are gone,” government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told AFP.
“The terms of his returning from exile were that he become a law abiding citizen until the army retires him from service as per his wish, but he has reneged on that,” he added.
There were conflicting reports about what was happening to Sejusa as all manner of rumours swept Kampala. Some reports suggested that Sejusa had “refused” to meet Museveni, but there was no confirmation of that.
The meeting in will do little to clear the air as Ugandan social media speculated that Sejusa had gone there against his will. An official photograph released of the meeting gave little away.
Analysts, however, seem to agree that after all but declaring war on Museveni’s government, Sejusa would not have returned to the country without a secret deal with the country’s president.
General Sejusa was once one of Uganda’s top military bosses, serving as intelligence chief and as a close advisor to President Museveni, who has been in power since 1986.
He left the country in 2013, after a confidential memo he wrote was leaked to the press, causing a political storm.
The memo claimed Museveni was grooming his son, special forces commander Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to succeed him and that those in the army opposed to the supposed succession plan risked being assassinated.
While in exile in Britain, General Sejusa formed the Freedom and Unity Front Party, marking himself as a direct challenger to Museveni.
Speaking to reporters outside Sejusa’s house in an upscale Kampala suburb, his lawyers, David Mushabe and Michael Mabikke, vowed they would wage “a protracted legal battle to rescue” their client.
“This is illegal confinement. You cannot deny him his basic needs like water and groceries. Nobody is allowed in or out,” Mutable said.
The move comes as Museveni has set about campaigning for presidential elections in 2016, which will be his 30th year in power.
Museveni, 70, has already been chosen unopposed as the ruling National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) candidate for the elections, but there have been increasing murmurs of discontent within some sections of the party.