KAMPALA – Former Security minister Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde has said the ruling government has taught Rwanda to respect the independence and sovereignty of Uganda as a country.
Lt Gen (Rtd) Tumukunde, who has announced plans to vie for the Kampala mayoral seat come 2021, was sacked as Security minister the same time as former Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura in March last year. The two never saw eye to eye and are said to have clashed over Gen Kayihura’s association with Rwanda.
Speaking in an interview published by the state-owned New Vision at the weekend, Gen Tumukunde said he was defending Uganda’s sovereignty when he clashed with Gen Kayihura.
“The Rwandans have their country; we have ours. My job was to defend Uganda. Let me say this without mincing words: anyone operating in this country must respect our institutions, our leadership and our country,” he said.
“And this, for me, is very fundamental. Ugandans are now respected; I do not want us to return to the days when people were putting us aside at international airports just because we carried a Ugandan passport. We progressed and we must protect our progress. So, anyone playing here must do it with absolute respect of our institutions, systems and leadership,” he added.
Relations between the countries have been strained since February over economic and political disagreements.
At the end of February, Rwanda started blocking Ugandan cargo trucks from entering at Katuna, the busiest crossing on the two nations’ border. Authorities in Kigali also started stopping the country’s nationals from travelling to Uganda.
Kigali accused Kampala of supporting rebel groups opposed to President Paul Kagame’s government, including the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Kampala has, in turn, accused Rwanda of effectively imposing a trade embargo on Uganda.
In the interview, Lt Gen Tumukunde also revealed that he clashed with Gen Kayihura because the latter was promoting lawlessness.
“Gen. Kayihura did a good job as far as I am concerned. When you meet a Police Officer on the streets, he is excited and full of confidence. And that had always been my prayer,” he said.
“So, Kayihura deserves to be credited for that. However, his time was also associated with predominant lawlessness because we incorporated people who were not qualified into the system of managing law and order. We have always depended on the population to gather intelligence, but we have always been careful not to incorporate them in the solutions of intelligence,” he added.
Lt Gen Tumukunde also said he can take the Kampala mayoral seat despite the city being viewed as an opposition stronghold.
“Haven’t you seen the Opposition voting a person on individual merit? Ugandans are capable of checking whether things are working in their favour or not. People know what they want, and time will tell. But it is also whether people get to understand that you understand their problems. There are 64 slums in Kampala. Schools are submerged in Bwaise! Can’t the leaders, for example, break or sort out the problem? The Netherlands is below sea level; so why should Bwaise be complicated mathematics? You can either relocate people or drain Bwaise,” he said.