There should be no doubt on the circumstances under which former exiled Gen Ssejusa returned to Uganda. Given the reasons for his overstay in the UK, the anti Museveni activities that he was involved in, his being a serving very senior army officer who had been declared a deserter and subversive, coupled by the VIP reception that he received upon return, its clear that the decision to return was his own decision subject to approval by only Museveni. Had Museveni not approved by threatening to arrest him, the Gen would either have not returned or would have returned but arrested immediately upon landing.
Negotiated return of exiles has always been ongoing though the one of Gen Ssejusa seems to be the biggest catch so far and that is why it has generated a lot of anxiety. All those soldiers from West Nile who served under Iddi Amin were allowed back through negotiated returns. The former DC of Luwero during UPC II Nathan Kalema negotiated for his return from London and lives quietly in Mbarara. Before Col. Muzoora met his mysterious death, government had initiated negotiations for his return from South Africa. What about Maj Okwir Rabwoni! Then Lt Bakarweha a lawyer who had been exiled with the Col Mande and Kyakabale in Sweden came back through a negotiated return and is now a serving senior army officer. Negotiations with LRA’s Vincent Otti went sour resulting in his death. Even those who cross from opposition parties to Museveni’s ruling clique undergo negotiations. Maj Rubaramira Ruranga is the classic example. Some other targets are simply compromised in return for being inactive and in extreme cases spying. The same applies to detainees or convicts like Tumukunde and Rwakasisi.
Such negotiations are usually mediated by family members, friends, elders etc and involves Chiefs of intelligence agencies. That is why Gen Ssejusa is not sincere when he says that there was no deal reached between him and the government. ISO Chief Brig Ronnie Balya was at the airport to meet him and there must have been other commanders with soldiers around ready to pounce on him in case he tried to breach the terms of the deal. The presence of his purported Lawyer, the landing late in the night and driving straight to his country home without causing commotion in Kampala was part of the deal. The lawyer was contacted by the Gen’s family members at the last hour prior to his landing and got approval of the the ISO chief. Otherwise without clearance, the lawyer could not proceed to Entebbe to receive the renegade Gen.
Such negotiated returns usually involve a resettlement package in monetary terms and in some cases a job depending on the profile of the target. The financial cost of Ssejusa’s air ticket, the fuel to his home, security guards, entertainment allowance etc were and continue to be met by the government. The security operatives around Gen Ssejusa may not be visible to every Tom and Dick but they are there for purposes of both his personal security and to spy on him. In the past we have seen situations where guards are withdrawn and government absconding to pay hotel bills for some returnees once government has lost interest in the target. Not all those who are targeted for luring into returning from exile do succumb; while others either out rightly refuse or simply go into hiding after eating the huge bait cash.
For Gen Ssejusa, the initiative to return must have been his own after realising that by continuing to stay in exile, he risked becoming irrelevant. As to why he did not come back on his own terms like was the case with Col. Besigye, the simple answer is that Besigye is more resolute than Ssejusa but more so they differ ideologically. While Besigye was persecuted into exile, Gen. Ssejusa was not persecuted into exile but while he was on a tour in the UK, government threatened to arrest him if he returned. Once again; “opposition to Museveni is in two categories i.e those who want to free Uganda from Museveni’s bondage and those seeking to get into power.” Given the situation, both categories are needed though the later category is prone to compromise.
Therefore, Gen Ssejusa’s return was a deal that was painfully approved by Museveni. “…he knows my address; we have been waiting for him for some months….”. Unfortunately the deal may soon be breached by both parties but with dire consequences for Gen Ssejusa because Museveni is does not honour agreements. Gen Ssejusa wants power from Museveni which power has just landed Amama Mbabazi three feet deep. He has a political organisation that he founded but as a serving army officer, the law does not allow him unless Museveni gives him an exception.
INFORMATION IS POWER
posted by Robukui