You have heard those NRA myths about how Gen Elly Tumwine in the morning of February 6, 1981, fired the “first shot” that catapulted the bush war.
A young Lt. Tumwine’s shot marked the beginning of the 1981-86 war that brought the NRM regime to power.
The legacy had gone on uninterrupted until last evening when he fired a “first no” in parliament only to lose the battle and eventually war against Constitutional Amendment Bill.
Tumwine told the house: “For the first time I vote no”-as you can see he is always the first.
Anticipating a historical defeat, Gen. Tumwine first voted no to the Constitutional Amendment Bill in the second reading.
He received a mixture of thumbs ups and downs from Ugandans but quickly changed his position in the third reading saying yes hence breaking the rules of warfare.
One third of opposition sided with NRM in passing the Constitutional Amendment Bill (Electoral Reforms) to committee stage.
Gen Tumwine had voted NO because he thought the bill was partisan and divisive, according to MP Gerald Karuhanga.
Shocked at Tumwine’s action the ruling NRM MPs all did what they do best-vote yes, yes and yes.
All the same, Tumwine’s vote that constituted a 33 no vote could not change the landslide vote from the numerical strength of the ruling NRM in parliament.
277 members of Parliament voted in favour of passing the Constitution Amendment Bill, 1 abstained and 6 opposed out of 284 total members who were present during the Bill’s 3rd reading.
The Bill allows the independent members of parliament less than 12 months to cross to political parties of their choice.
The Constitution Amendment Bill as passed rejected the proposal to increase the retirement age of Judges and Justices from 65 years to 70 years and 70 to 75 years for judges.
The new constitutional amendment bill has changed the Electoral commission name to the independent Electoral commission.
Parliament rejected a proposal on Electoral commission members having a non-renewable seven year term of office instead of open term to avoid a possibility of compromise.
However, parliament shelved the minority report views for future consideration.
The Attorney General Fred Ruhindi, in his response said that the views in the minority report on the constitutional amendment bill will be forwarded in the constitutional review commission so as are considered in future.
General Elly Tumwine (born 12 April 1954) is a UPDF military officer, professional artist, and educator. He served as Commander of the National Resistance Army from 1984 to 1987.
He is one of the highest-ranking members of the Ugandan military and is a member of the Ugandan Parliament, representing the Uganda People’s Defense Force.
He is the national chairman of the medals awards committee.
When the NRA came to power in 1986, he was named the Army Commander, then defence state minister, Director General of the External Security Organisation (ESO), a presidential advisor and later, chairman of the General Court Martial.
Tumwine attended Mbarara High School, St. Henrys College, Kitovu and Makerere University, where he completed a degree in Fine Art.
He trained as a cadet in Monduli, Tanzania. The born-again soldier also does singing and fashion design.
In 1978, he interrupted his teaching career to join the FRONASA forces led by Yoweri Museveni to fight the Idi Amin regime.
In 1981, when Museveni went to the bush to form the National Resistance Army (NRA), Elly Tumwine went with him.
During the fighting between the NRA and the UNLA, Tumwine sustained facial injuries that led to loss of sight in one eye.
In 1984, Tumwine was named Commander of the Army, a post he held until 1987, when he was succeeded by General Salim Saleh.
He has also continuously represented the UPDF in the Ugandan Parliament since 1986.
In September 2005, he was promoted to the rank of General in the UPDF and named to Chair the UPDF General Court Marshal.
After the National Resistance Movement victory in 1986 he resumed his art, designed the flag, the emblem and the green and camouflage uniforms of the army.