By our reporter
On March 11 President, Yoweri Museveni, called a security meeting at State House, Entebbe, consisting of all heads of intelligence, police and army including the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
He declared that time had come to immediately arrest Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde for speaking recklessly in the media including revealing a lot of state secrets.
“We have to bring to an end this nonsense,” Museveni reportedly said.
Tumukunde, a former minister for security who was fired in March 2018, had declared his intentions to challenge Museveni for the presidency, a factor that has always brought high-ranking army officers into trouble.
He had been on a television talk-show circuit where he revealed how he tricked Museveni into releasing him from the army. He had also called upon the government of Rwanda to assist him in removing Museveni.
“Enough of Tumukunde,” Museveni reportedly said in a tough tone though remaining calm. “Leave nothing to chance. Search his home and office and see what we can find there. He has admitted he has been involved in subterranean activities. Find out what he has been doing exactly.”
The next day at 7pm, a highly armed contingent of the police’s counter terrorism force backed by Special Forces Command (SFC) soldiers’ swang into action.
They cordoned off Tumukunde’s office along Impala Avenue in the upscale Kololo residential area where he had been sported and where he also had a private office.
The office was searched and later whisked him off to Nsambya, where the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate (CIID) of the police are headquartered.
After cross-examination he was taken to a prison cell pending charges of treason.
Where all this started
On April 20, 2013, some security officers in the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces (UPDF) approached the then commander of the Special Forces Command (SFC), Lt. Gen. (then Maj. Gen.) Muhoozi Keinerugaba, according to highly placed sources.
The sources narrated to The Independent that the officers told Keinerugaba, who is also a son to President Yoweri Museveni, that a military coup attempt was brewing inside the SFC, and had elements in the high ranks of the regular UPDF behind it.
This prompted Keinerugaba to launch an immediate investigation. Within a week, he had unearthed an elaborate plot involving key generals of the Bahima sub-ethnic from Ankore and Mpororo.
Sources say the key ringleader of this effort was Gen. David Tinyefuza who was in direct contact with key officers in SFC. This is said to have shocked Keinerugaba.
Another officer who was named as working with Tinyefuza was then Brig. and now Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde, who had been in jail for years and had later been released.
However, the biggest surprise and shock, sources say, is when the officers revealed that the late Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, was part of the plot. This sent shivers down the spine of Keinerugaba who realized the situation was dangerous.
According to information available to The Independent, Keinerugaba immediately called the Chief of Military Intelligence (CMI), then Brig. Charles Bakahumura.
He asked him whether he (Bakahumura) had such information. However, Bakahumura said he had heard nothing of the sort.
Keinerugaba then called then Director General of Internal Security Organization (ISO), Brig. Ronald Balya, and other senior officers in positions of intelligence in the army. However, all denied having heard the plot.
Armed with a mountain of information involving confessions by soldiers involved in the plot, Keinerugaba went to see his father, also Commander in Chief, Museveni, on the morning of April.30.
According to information available, Museveni was shocked at the intelligence and immediately ordered the arrest of Tinyefuza.
However, the president was later informed that Tinyefuza, who was then a member of parliament representing the army had requested a leave from parliament and travelled to London the previous day, a factor the caused suspicion that information could have leaked.
Nonetheless, Museveni ordered a raid on Tinyefunza’s house including arrest of his guards and other soldiers who were said to have been with him in the plot.
In the meantime, Tinyefunza, who had realized that Keinerugaba was on his heels, had written letters accusing Museveni of plotting to install Keinerugaba as the next president.
On the same day, Museveni summoned a meeting of the top officers of the army, police and intelligence. He was in an angry mood. In attendance were Nyakairima, Kale Kayihura (then Inspector General of Police (IGP), Balya, Bakahumura and Keinerugaba.
And to cover up for Keinerugaba as source of the intelligence, Museveni said he had been receiving reports from different quarters that Tinyefunza was plotting a military and political challenge to the government. He did not mention Nyakairima or Tumukunde’s involvement in the plot.
A calm character, Museveni always ensures that his feelings are under tight control of political calculations and his intellect. It was politically dangerous, he reasoned, to arrest Nyakairima who was a highly respected person in the army and country.
It was also not necessary to arrest Tumukunde who had no command of any forces. Besides, such an arrest of three prominent Bahima generals would reveal to the public a major crack in the UPDF.
Immediately after raiding Tinyefunza’s office and arresting many of his collaborators, Museveni reshuffled the army. He removed Nyakairima and replaced him with Gen. Katumba Wamala.
Recognising that he had been militarily decapitated, Nyakairima was made minister in-charge of internal affairs. According to sources, it was then only a matter of time that Museveni would remove both Bakahumura and Balya from CMI and ISO, respectively, for failure to detect the coup.
Tumukunde vs Museveni
It is at this point that Tumumunde’s face off with Museveni began, according to insiders. Museveni, a master of strategy and political intrigue, had realized that schisms were developing within the Bahima military elite, his inner core, for the control of power.