Presidential hopeful Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde has said he was imprisoned by the establishment due to his divergent views and urged opposition to unite as the country prepares for the 2021 general elections.
“I was continually denied access to my family, legal team, doctors and advisors. I was essentially a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned because of my difference in political opinion with the establishment,” said Tumukunde.
“It is not by coincidence that my arrest and subsequent imprisonment happened just eight days after my declaration to contest for the presidency of this nation,” he added in a statement issued on Saturday.
Tumukunde was in March arrested from his private office in Kololo, Kampala, over his remarks urging Rwanda to cause regime change in Uganda.
While appearing on a television talk show in Kampala, Tumukunde appeared to ask for support from Rwanda.
“If I was Rwanda, I would support people who want to cause change in Uganda,” said Tumukunde.
The eyebrow-raising comments came at a time Uganda’s relations with Rwanda were at their lowest.
Both countries were teetering on the edge of an all-out military conflict.
Tumukunde’s remarks were condemned by several high profile Ugandan officials.
“This is the most reckless statement I have heard from anybody running for President,” said Uganda’s envoy to United Nations, Adonia Ayebare.
“Inviting a foreign country to interfere in our politics, which is in contravention with the UN charter and other regional protocols?” he wondered.
In his statement today, the former spy master also narrated his ordeal while he was under confinement in Luzira maximum prison.
Tumukunde was granted bail on 11 May 2020 after 59 days in jail.
Tumukunde, who is still battling treason charges, said his “imprisonment is a price that I have paid for offering myself for leadership of this country. A price that many others have paid and continue to pay for having alternative views as we attempt to achieve true democracy, rule of law, economic transformation for all and a peaceful political transition. I extend an open invitation to all Ugandans to join in the struggle for this unprecedented peaceful change.”
Tumukunde also called for an alliance of the political opposition to force Museveni out of power.
“I would like to send a message to members of the opposition including those in the ruling party with alternative views that all we suffer can be ended through a united front to achieve change in this country. I wish to remind you that we are six months away from scheduled general elections of 2021,” said Tumukunde.
However, Tumukunde has a long way to go to convince the opposition to trust him considering he is a former spy.
Secondly, some of the president’s harsh critics have since quietly returned to the ruling party.
Tumukunde had fallen out with Museveni in the early 2000s only to return in 2016 as the president’s chief campaign manager.
The General said “it matters that all of us take special judicial notice that it is strictly a short time to objectively sort out the issues that stand before us especially the obstacles that deny us a levelled ground to contest and win these coming elections.”