KAMPALA – General Elly Tumwine was born 12 April 1954 in Burunga, Mbarara District. He was a Ugandan military officer, professional artist, and educator. He served as the Security Minister in the Cabinet of Uganda, from March 2018 until 2021. He retired from active military service in July 2022.
Tumwine served as commander of the National Resistance Army from 1984 to 1987. He was one of the highest-ranking members of the Ugandan military who said it was okay for police to shoot at violent (have reached a certain level of violence) protesters (who attacked police, blocked public roads with burning tyres, looted shops, tribally attacked fellow civilians).
He also ordered the military illegally incarcerate and send opposition members to be tried in military courts based on trumped up charges (no examples given), which resulted in Bobi Wine supporters suing for Human Rights violations. This led the United States of America to sanction the Ugandan generals over human rights abuses. He was a member of the Ugandan Parliament, representing the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF).
Early life and education
Tumwine attended Burunga Primary School, Mbarara High School and St. Henry’s College Kitovu, before joining Makerere University, where in 1977, he graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art together with a Diploma in Education. He specialised in the history of art painting.
He subsequently graduated from the Cadet Officers Course at the Tanzania Military Academy at Monduli. He also attended the Senior Command Course at the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College at Kimaka, in Jinja, Uganda, being a member of the pioneer class that graduated in 2005. Tumwine also holds further military qualifications from the military academy in Vystry, in the Soviet Union.
In 1978, he interrupted his teaching career to join the FRONASA forces led by Yoweri Museveni to fight the Idi Amin regime. In 1981, when Museveni went to the bush to form the National Resistance Army (NRA), Tumwine went with him. He is reported to have fired the first shot in the National Resistance Army War, which propelled the National Resistance Army and National Resistance Movement into power in Uganda in 1986. During the fighting between the NRA and the UNLA, Tumwine sustained facial injuries that led to loss of sight in one eye.
In 1984, Tumwine was named Commander of the Army, a post he held until 1987, when he was succeeded by General Salim Saleh. Over the years, he served in various positions, including:
He served as the Director General of the External Security Organization (ESO) from 1994 until 1996.
He was also the Presidential Adviser from 1996 until 1998, and Chairman of the High Command Appeals Committee from 1986 until 1999.
Tumwine also continuously represented the UPDF in the Ugandan Parliament from 1986.
In September 2005, he was promoted to the rank of general in the UPDF and named to chair the UPDF General Court Marshal.
On 16 May 2022, Tumwiine was among 34 generals who were retired from the UPDF.