Opposition lynchpin Dr Kizza Besigye has described the arrest of Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde as a welcome to the real world of politics in Uganda.
According to Dr Besigye, the former spy chief and security minister did not know what it means to opposition until his arrest on Thursday, March 12.
“Gen. Tumukunde must be welcome to the real world. People who are on the regime quite often don’t appreciate what people go through,” Dr Besigye said while appearing on NTV’s flagship talk show, On the Spot, on Thursday evening.
He said what happened to Tumukunde is part of what the government of President Museveni has been doing over the years.
“What is happening is a matter that has been going on for a long time borne out two things. Unrestrained exercise of power on the part of the executive i.e acting arbitrary with impunity; not acting within the law; not acting according to the constitution,” Dr Besigye said.
Tumukunde was arrested on Thursday two weeks after he declared intention to run for presidency.
But according to Dr Besigye, everyone who challenges power in Uganda will go through the same.
“In spite of everything that happens, people don’t seem to appreciate what we have been going through. He seems to think that we should have faith and hope that elections work. I don’t know if Gen Tumukunde genuinely believes so. He has been under the command of persons that don’t allow space for others to function,” he said.
Nevertheless, the opposition lynchpin said Gen. Tumukunde’s decision to stand against his former boss is an indication that government is growing weaker.
” I have not talked to Tumukunde before or after his declaration, so I may not know what informs his decision. But I think on the other hand, apart from unrestrained exercise of power, Gen. Museveni is ever getting weaker,” he said.
Asked if he welcomes Tumukunde into opposition with open arms, Dr Besigye said: “We don’t have opposition and government. What we have is Captives Vs Captors. We have people who are using power capriciously and those others that want to reclaim the power. If he wants to join those that want to reclaim their power from the captors, he is absolutely welcome.”
Dr Besigye added that seeing different people from security organs (Gen. Henry Tumukunde, Gen. David [Sejusa] Tinyefuza, Amama Mbabazi) coming up to challenge the status quo is a sure sign that things are falling apart at the top.
” I sense that a vulnerability has arisen which offers an opportunity to be attacked. What was a leopard is now vulnerable. Apart from weakening power and authority, for us who want to regain our power, it will take a struggle not just throwing a vote in a box,” he added.
Dr Besigye was himself a Bush War hero who fell out with government over 20 years ago and now he says that the decision of the likes of Tumukunde to quit the system further vindicates his own decision.
“For us, at this stage, everyone counts. When the regime gets weaker, like it was the case in Bush war, there are many defections and these defections are invaluable. These people who are joining are very useful and we should engage them further to benefit the struggle.
You see we jumped out of that ship quite early and we definitely paid higher price but I feel glad that whatever effort we have been making is yeilding fruit,” he said.
“People join the struggle at different stages. In 2001, few people were willing to join the struggle. In 2006, more people joined the struggle and in 2011, more others joined. So everyone who joins at whatever stage is welcome,” he added.