Security silent as Gen. Muntu joins walk-to-work

Thursday May 05 2011

A police officer salutes former Army Commander Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu as he walked to work yesterday. The General, who is secretary for national mobilisation in the Forum for Democratic Change party, walked from his home in Kololo to Parliament without incident. This was in contrast to previous weeks when the police brutalised opposition members walking to work. PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI

Gen. Mugisha Muntu, walked untouched from his home in Kololo to Parliament.

Gen. Muntu is secretary for national mobilisation in the opposition Forum for Democratic Change party, which has taken an active role in the protests against the rising cost of living.

Speaking after the walk, he said: “I don’t think there is any police order stopping us from walking today. This is why we have arrived here (Parliament) peacefully. This can signal the beginning of an engagement between us and the government. We have set conditions for a dialogue. We are not intransigent. We just want a meaningful dialogue.”

In contrast, Democratic Party chief Norbert Mao was arrested minutes after he left his home.

FDC deputy president Salaam Musumba and MPs Nandala Mafabi and Amuriat Oboi, were, however, allowed to walk without police interference.

Police tight-lipped
Neither Regional Police Commander Grace Turyagumanawe nor police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba could explain the Force’s change of heart.


Mr Turyagumanawe refused to discuss the matter and referred Daily Monitor to Ms Nabakooba, whose phone was repeatedly answered by an unidentified male individual.

Her deputy, Vicent Ssekate, also refused to comment, insisting Ms Nabakooba was the right person to do so.
Gen. Muntu, who walked through Acacia Avenue, warned President Museveni against oppressing peaceful Ugandans.
“I do not think that there should be anyone who should be arrested for walking to work,” he said. “Ugandans should be left to exercise their constitutional rights [to demonstrate].”

The general told journalists he was distressed by last week’s incident in which a plain-clothed security agent smashed the windscreen of Dr Kizza Besigye’s car and doused him in pepper spray and tear gas, before bundling the FDC leader into a police truck.

Gen. Muntu, who returned from Tunisia on Tuesday, said the time was ripe for him to identify with suffering Ugandans as the cost of living soars, with inflation standing at 14 per cent, the highest in years.

“There are certain times when we are faced with fundamental issues that are national in character,” he said. “And for us in the opposition, our duty will always be to bring such issues to the forefront. People will always see if it’s the government in power that is right or if it is the opposition that is intransigent.”

He started his walk at about 8.20am and was joined by some supporters near Kampala Golf Club, who followed him to Parliament.

The general warned that Uganda is sitting on a “time bomb” because people have lost trust in the electoral system.

Who is Gen. Muntu?

He served longest as army commander in Mr Museveni’s regime (1989-1997).

When the NRA toppled the military junta of Maj. Gen. Tito Okello in 1986, Maj. Gen. Muntu held a senior position in the Directorate of Military Intelligence.

His career spanned a period during which the Museveni government was confronting insurgencies in northern Uganda and several smaller rebellions around the country.

Before retiring in 2005, he had served as army MP and currently is one of Uganda’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly.