Profile: Tumukunde promoted, retired from army


Tumukunde is now a Lt General

President Yoweri Museveni also the Commander-in-Chief of Ugandan army has promoted senior spy Henry Tumukunde from the rank of Brigadier to Lieutenant General.

Lt Gen Tumukunde, a senior military officer of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, has been on the rank of Brigadier to which he was promoted in 2013 military reshuffle.

A qualified lawyer, Tumukunde has also served as the UPDF’s Chief of Personnel and Administration, Chief of Military Intelligence as well as serving as the Commanding Officer of The UPDF Fourth Division, based in Gulu, Northern Uganda.

He has also previously served as the Director General of The Internal Security Organisation, ISO.

Tumukunde was also an MP representing the Army in the Parliament of Uganda between 1995 and 2005.

Army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, confirmed Tumukunde’s elevation and final retirement from the army.

“Yes, Brig Henry Tumukunde is now a Lt Gen and retired from the UPDF,” Ankunda said.

Tumukunde has been in the news as Museveni’s soft power for neutralising opponents ahead of 2016 general elections.

While there has been a public outcry that he cannot join partisan politics, the spy is now free of army obligations and can do as he wishes.

Background and education

He was born in Rukungiri District in the Western Region of Uganda circa 1955.

He attended Kigezi College Butobere (Siniya) and Kibuli Secondary School for his O-Level and A-Level education, respectively.

Tumukunde graduated from Makerere University with the degree of Bachelor of Laws, awarded in the early 1980s.

He also holds the Diploma in Legal Practice, awarded by the Law Development Centre in 2010.

Joining The NRA guerillas

During his time at Makerere, Tumukunde was involved in anti-government politics which subsequently led to his joining of then rebels, the National Resistance Army led by current Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Tumukunde was hounded by the government security services during his last year at the University and on completion, decided to join the struggle, along with some of his friends at the time, Major General Mugisha Muntu and Colonel Jet Mwebaze (RIP).

His actual journey is well documented in local press due to the fact that Obote’s security services at the time caught wind of their impending departure to the bush and mounted an attack on the NRA’s transit house, a shop in the Capital Kampala.

It is said that Tumukunde alongside Muntu posed as a shopkeeper surviving what would have been sure torture and death.

In the early stages of the war, Tumukunde was a machine gunner and eventually went on to become one of the senior officers in the rebel army, indicated by his senior number RA 0111.

Getting shot

In 1985, during one of the bigger battles with the UNLA in Luweero, Tumukunde was shot multiple times in his legs.

The wounds were so major that it was thought he would not be able to survive.

He was however smuggled out of the country to Nairobi and eventually to London where he was operated on.


On capturing power, Tumukunde promoted to the rank of Major and appointed first secretary and Military Attache at the Ugandan Embassy in the United Kingdom.

Subsequently Tumukunde was sent on a Command and Staff Course at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, in Kaduna, Nigeria from where he emerged as one of the best students.

He later on returned to Uganda where he became the Army’s Director of Planning.

Tumukunde served in this role for many years and was very instrumental in the setup of formal military structures in the UPDF which had until then been a rebel army.

In 1994 Uganda held elections for the Constituent Assembly and Tumukunde sought to represent his home county Rubaabo.

His main competitor was a government minister and senior figure Professor Mondo Kagonyera.

Tumukunde who was in early thirties at the time was thought to be the underdog in the race however as it turned out, Tumukunde was a very good mobiliser and won by a landslide margin.

Tumukunde then joined the CA which formulated the current 1995 Ugandan Constitution.

Tumukunde was known to be a regular and astute contributor to the sessions and debates that preceded the formation of the Constitution.

Following the set-up of the constitution, Uganda held elections and Tumukunde subsequently became a member of parliament representing the Army as a special interest group.

He went on to serve as an MP until 2005.

In addition to this Tumukunde was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and appointed Chief of Personnel and Administration.

In 1998, Tumukunde was again promoted to the rank of Colonel and appointed Chief of Military Intelligence and Security.

His tenure was arguably the most successful by any officer as it is during this time that Al-Qaeda’s plan to bomb the American Embassy was thwarted.

There was also a time where bombings were rampant within the Capital Kampala, and once again Tumukunde formed several intelligence committees within the city and the problem was gotten rid of.

Tumukunde also built an amicable rapport with the Muslim community which many had accused of spearheading the attacks, so much so that key intelligence information was forwarded to him with ease.

Arguably, it was during his reign that the Ugandan Intelligence apparatus was at its most efficient.

Tumukunde was then promoted to Brigadier General and transferred to command the UPDF Fourth Division based in Gulu.

At the time, the war with the LRA was ongoing and Tumukunde made significant headway during his time as Division Commanding Officer, in diminishing the threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Tumukunde was then appointed Director General of ISO, the Internal Security Organisation, Uganda’s Civil Intelligence Body.

During his time at ISO, Tumukunde set up structures that returned ISO to being the country’s foremost Intelligence gathering body, just as he had done with CMI.

The ISO became renowned for its efficient and effective approach towards Intelligence and Counter-terrorism.

The Fall Out

Tumukunde’s fast rise to the upper echelons of both the political and military scene in Uganda marked him out as one of Uganda’s most popular and well known figures and ultimately, this, alongside his very strong minded and unrelenting dedication to his country, brought him into the sights of the very institutions he helped to consolidate.

At a political retreat in 2003, Tumukunde, in the presence of the President and his Cabinet, argued against the impending removal of term limits that would give President Museveni the right to stand for re-election on an infinite basis.

Tumukunde stated that this would be in direct contravention of the rights that they fought to establish and that he, was not willing to take part in what he considered to be grossly unconstitutional behaviour.

Predictably this put him at loggerheads with the establishment and more so the President.

Arrest and detention

Tumukunde was charged with the offences of abuse of office and spreading harmful propaganda.

The abuse of office charges were eventually dropped in a manner which suggested that they had been politically motivated in the first instance.

Tumukunde was on 28 May 2005, forced to resign from Parliament and subsequently arrested on the orders of the President.

His home was surrounded by no less than 50 soldiers commanded by General’s Kayihura and Masaba who proceeded to arrest him.

Tumukunde was then driven in a tightly guarded convoy to an officers mess turned detention where he was incarcerated for nearly 2 years during which he had limited and tightly controlled contact with the outside world.

His extrajudicial detention coupled with a series of controversial and uncertain court martial hearings seemed to backfire leading to irreversible pressure which culminated in his release in 2007.

His arrest followed his opposing views to the proposed ‘third term’ project that suggested a revision to the Ugandan constitution enabling one to serve more than two terms as President as was the case at the time.

On 18 April 2013, the UPDF General Court Martial sat to bring an end to the process that had lasted 8 years and summed up its deliberations.

The charge of spreading harmful propaganda was dropped while the joint charge of military misconduct was upheld and Tumukunde was subsequently sentenced to a severe reprimand.

Return to grace 

Tumukunde recently reconciled with his boss who employed him in the 2016 media and campaign team.

He has been reported to have received about Shs 5bn from Museveni to nuetralise former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi.

An effective and smooth operator, Tumukunde has already caused defections of NRM youth from Amama back to Museveni in Kampala and Kabale districts.

He is accused of staging a fight of the youth that raided Amama’s Kololo home recently.

He is also accused of “buying off” FDC president Mugisha Muntu with Shs 3bn to sabotage and nuetralise Col Kizza Besigye.

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