Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) has reacted to press statements made by Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) President.
While addressing guests during the launch of the book, “Kizza Besigye and Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution”, in Kampala last Friday, Muntu reportedly said he would not condemn citizens who take up arms for a legitimate struggle against a government.
The former Army commander made it clear that he had “no intentions of condemning anybody who would feel frustrated to the extent of wanting to get weapons and fight”.
According to Daily Monitor, Muntu was responding to Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago who had asked if the prevailing political conditions are the same as those that drove President Yoweri Museveni to start a guerrilla war in 1980 against Milton Obote’s government.
Muntu insisted that the Ugandan situation was ripe for such an armed struggle.
In response, UPDF spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, wondered why of all means of removing governments, Muntu would pick military means.
“And why pick a gun and not a ballot?” Ankunda queried.
Ankunda then made it clear that: “UPDF will firmly and decisively deal with any person who seeks to overturn the democratic order in Uganda through the use of arms”.
It should be remembered that while speaking in Kabale, President Museveni clarified that he would still be around because he has a strong army.
He later announced in Eastern Uganda that he owns all the money in the country and cannot be threatened in any way.
Muntu who says he is ready to back an armed struggle, served from 1989 until 1998, as UPDF army Commander, the highest military position in the Ugandan military at that time.
Muntu joined the guerrilla National Resistance Army of Yoweri Museveni the day he completed his university exams to the chagrin of his family and President Obote, who considered him a son.
Early into the rebellion he was shot in the chest but survived after receiving treatment in Kampala.
Later he emerged as the head of Military Intelligence after the NRA victory in 1986.
In military intelligence he had under his command, personalities like Paul Kagame who would later become the president of the Republic of Rwanda.
Muntu underwent further military training in Russia before becoming a division commander in Northern Uganda.
He rose to the rank of Major General within the UPDF.
His rapid promotion did not to go unnoticed by other senior officers in the Ugandan military.
He was later to serve as Commander of the UPDF.
That post was later renamed Chief of Defence Forces of Uganda.
As army chief, he oversaw the demobilization of many sections of the army.
Observers have attributed Maj. Gen. Muntu’s quick ascension to the pinnacle of the NRA/UPDF to his reputation as an incorruptible and loyal officer to the President of Uganda.
This loyalty was rewarded by the support of the President during Muntu’s many quarrels with sections of the army which accused him of trying to alienate them.
Prominent among these was the so-called ‘uneducated’ officers, led by Major General James Kazini (RIP).
Muntu was accused of creating a schism within the army by showing preferential treatment to educated officers while sidelining those he considered uneducated.