General Sejusa told to wait 90 days for his freedom
To calm a nervous camp of Gen David Sejusa’s lawyers, unsettled by what they see as government’s slow pace in processing his retirement, the army has said the general will know his fate in 90 days.
Speaking to The Observer yesterday, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, the army spokesperson, said the process of leaving the army is not as straightforward as some people think.
“Sejusa should be patient. The Commissions and Promotions Board [CPB] will sit soon to consider his application. There is no reason to panic. We shall get back to him in 90 days,” Ankunda said.
The army’s CPB, chaired by the chief of defence forces, retires and promotes army officers. Going by Ankunda’s pronouncement, it means Sejusa will know his fate some time in April.
Late last month, Sejusa’s lawyers claimed they had lodged the general’s application for retirement. But without giving a specific date, Ankunda said the application was only received last week.
Ankunda’s comments came after we learnt that the general was getting jittery about the delay to discharge him from the army. It is said that Sejusa fears President Museveni may be trying to keep him in some sort of abeyance – quiet in the hope of getting his retirement, but also unable to pursue any political aspirations he may have.
In a meeting between Museveni and Gen Sejusa on January 3, the president gave the retirement process a go-ahead.
“The president has ordered Brig Ramadhan Kyamulesire (head of legal services in the UPDF) to make sure the Commissions and Promotions Board expeditiously handles Sejusa’s request to retire from the army,” Sejusa’s lawyers told journalists at a press briefing after the Entebbe meeting.
Gen Sejusa had earlier claimed that he and a number of senior army officers were being kept in the army against their will to block them from running for political office. Senior army officers who have joined opposition politics after retirement include Dr Kizza Besigye, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, Maj John Kazoora and more recently Maj Gen Benon Biraaro.
Besides Sejusa, other senior army officers who have reportedly expressed their desire to retire include Brig Henry Tumukunde, the former head of Internal Security Organisation (ISO), and Gen Aronda Nyakairima, the minister for Internal Affairs. One of Sejusa’s confidants, who requested anonymity, said the army was trying to hold onto Sejusa, possibly as an insurance against him making political statements that might annoy Museveni.
“What are they afraid of? Sejusa did a lot and when he decides that he wants to retire, his wish should be granted,” the confidante said.
Sejusa’s lawyer Michael Mabikke said in an interview on Wednesday that the delay to discharge the general from the army had made them anxious.
“We are following up the matter with the relevant army authorities although at this point I cannot tell you how it will end,” Mabikke said.
According to Mabikke, the Commissions and Promotions Board had been scheduled to sit a week after Museveni met Sejusa. This did not happen.
“Maybe they are just sitting on the letter. We don’t know what is happening,” Mabikke said.
The former Makindye East MP also expressed concern about the continuing treason case against some people linked to Sejusa at the General Court Martial. He said the case goes against the spirit of reconciliation exhibited during the Museveni-Sejusa meeting.