The law is always in the books so say learned friends. On Tuesday the Ugandan Court of Appeal overturned a decision declaring Gen. David Sejusa as a retired army officer.
Details indicate that the Attorney General (AG) won this high-profile case successfully denying the controversial general a civilian life.
Gen .Sejusa had earlier won a case in which he had successfully convinced the High Court’s Civil Division that he was constructively retired from the army and that he was a civilian.
The High Court’s Civil Division agreed with him that the army had constructively retired him. By the army taking his “uniforms and guns, withdrawing guards, and not paying him his arrears and allowances,” Justice Margret Oumo Oguli ruled that the army had constructively retired Sejusa.
In 2013 Gen.Sejusa a former coordinator of intelligence services coined the term ‘Muhoozi project’ signaling that President Yoweri Museveni was hurriedly promoting his son through army ranks with an alleged intention of grooming him as successor and creating a “political dynasty” in Uganda.
This angered President Museveni and which triggered Gen.Sejusa to flee the country spending more than a year in self-imposed exile in Britain. But he was later was arrested for insubordination in 2016. Unrepentant, since 2014, he remains unretired but with no deployment.
Critics say Museveni intentionally refused to retire Gen. Sejusa from the army as a way of preventing him from joining politics. The General successfully appealed to court which ruled in his favour.
After winning the court case it was anticipated that Gen.Sejusa had been unshackled from the constraints of being an active army officer and would now engage in active politics in which he would be a leading figure in uprooting Museveni’s decades’ hold onto power.
Prior to the 2016 general election, Gen. Sejusa gave a speech at the nomination rally of Forum for Democratic Change’s presidential flag bearer, Dr .Kizza Besigye, at Nakivubo stadium and he also attended activities of the Democratic Party (DP).
According to the Ugandan law, a serving military officer is prohibited from engaging in politics.
These two actions led to his prosecution in the Court Martial which up to date had never been logically concluded since the High Court ruled that Sejusa retired.
During the 2021 elections, Gen. Sejusa remained silent apart from a few comments dished out via his twitter handle and has avoided public appearances.
Gen. Sejusa’s legal team leader David Mushabe can only guess why his client went mute since 2016, “I don’t know why. Maybe he doesn’t want to be involved in the current mess.”
However, some sources familiar with Museveni and Sejusa relations dating back from the Bush-war alleged that the general stopped being vocal once negotiations with President Museveni had arrived to some concessions.
It is alleged that Museveni agreed to withdraw the soldiers that were permanently stationed at Gen. Sejusa’s home in Naguru, Kampala, and also agreed that the convictions and sentence of 15 years each handed to Gen. Sejusa’s six aides by a military court be overturned.
In 2019, the case was transferred to the civil court and three justices of the Court of Appeal, led by then Deputy Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo, overturned the military court’s judgment and freed the aides who were jailed on accusations of treachery.
On November 28, 1996, Gen Sejusa, RO 031, was summoned by the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, which was looking into how the army was managing the war against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which was raging in northern Uganda.
In his testimony, he meanderingly accused Museveni of not doing enough to end the war, something that reawakened the Bush War bad blood between him and Museveni.
In the aftermath, Museveni ordered him to appear before the High Command to explain his remarks, but instead Gen Sejusa resigned from the UPDF, where he was a member of the High Command.
Then minister of State for Defence, Amama Mbabazi, declared his resignation null and void, forcing the General to go to court. He won the case in the Constitutional Court but his victory was reversed in the Supreme Court which reasoned that if Sejusa’s resignation were to be allowed it would open floodgates in the army.