Uganda: Gen. Wamala, Seen As Threat to Dictator Museveni, May be Under House Arrest

Gen. Wamala
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A bloodied Gen. Wamala photographed last year after surviving assassination attempt that claimed lives of his daughter and driver. 

General Edward Katumba Wamala is reportedly ill and yet under house arrest. Impeccable sources point to his persecution ever since he fell out of the public view a couple of weeks ago. 

Many view this as a continuation in the ongoing saga to kill the general which started even before the double murder last year of Nanyonjo Brenda, his daughter, and Kayondo Haruna, his driver, when Wamala himself and his driver Sgt. Koboyoit Khalid survived the assassination attempt. 

This attack was said to have been carried out because Wamala had refused to command the Kasese massacre of 2016;  yet he was Chief of Defense Forces of the national army, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF). 

In Kasese, the police and military were responsible for killing more than 100 people, including many women and children. Dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni has rebuffed numerous calls by Human Rights Watch and other international organizations to investigate the massacre which was presided over by Gen. Peter Elwelu, whom Museveni boasted of having ordered to carry out the operation in an Al Jazeera interview

Those killed on November 26 and 27, 2016 in Kasese, home of the Rwenzururu kingdom, included at least 15 children. This was followed by the prolonged detention by the Museveni regime of 167 civilians, charged with treason, terrorism, and murder among other alleged offenses.

Wamala, in refusing to pull the trigger on innocents, was punished with demotion from Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) to Minister of State for Works and Transport, which is a junior ministerial position. Wamala’s rap sheet, as the Museveni junta sees it, reveals a man who refused to get involved with the army’s brutality, dating way back to after the fraudulent and bogus 2006 elections.

He was quoted as saying during a Security council meeting at the time that he was ready to work with the actual election winner Dr. Kizza Besigye, who represented the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Wamala was thereby punished with demotion from Inspector General of Police, marking the emergence of the infamous Gen. Kale Kayihura to the helm of the police force. Kayihura was later sanctioned by the United States but by that time he too had fallen out with Gen. Museveni.

Gen. Wamala is also seen as an obstacle to Gen. Museveni’s plans to install his son Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba—derisively referred to as “junior dictator”—as his successor. The Ugandan author and PEN International 2021 Writer of Honor awardee accused Gen. Kainerugaba of personally supervising his vicious torture in December 2021. 

Gen. Wamala more recently annoyed the Museveni junta further by offering words of advice to Bobi Wine—the presumptive winner of the stolen 2021 election—on what qualities a successful leader should have. “Mister Bobi Wine, I wish that one day you govern this country...” Gen. Wamala said to bursts of applause and a standing ovation from Bobi Wine and other excited listeners at the late Christopher Columbus Sembuya’s  funeral in Kikwayi village in Buikwe district, in January.

“...But I warn you that if you prioritize tribes or tribalism, you will not manage Uganda,” he added. Sembuya was the fallen industrialist and founder of Sembule Group of Companies. Wamala has become persona non-grata to the Museveni inner circle, which is hellbent on taking Uganda farther down the abyss of debt, devastation and disunity. To compound matters, Wamala is a Muganda and the Baganda, as far as Gen. Museveni is concerned  are the new Acholi. Gen. Museveni previously regarded the Acholi as enemies of the state and launched a genocidal campaign of retribution against them as documented in “A Brilliant Genocide.” 

Currently, the Baganda are seen as the new dissidents. Bobi Wine, a Buganda, as Museveni sees it, committed the ultimate sin of running against him and defeating him. 

When Bobi Wine’s party, the National Unity Platform, even with the massive rigging, swept the polls in Buganda region a target was painted on his back along with other Baganda presumed to be enemies of the state. NUP won in most other districts in the country but the regime stuffed ballot boxes and declared its own results—it was difficult to do the same in Buganda with more media visibility. 

All these developments place Gen. Wamala in danger from Museveni. He is seen as a dissident in uniform. He is a four-star general with a world of respect in the UPDF. 

The national army is Gen. Museveni’s principal, and possibly only, constituency. He will not tolerate anyone who has the potential to wrest control of the army from him. Especially somebody like Gen. Wamala, who is also popular with civilians because of his measured, gentlemanly manner. 

This last Muganda who posed such a potential threat to Museveni was former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya’s son Brian. He was being groomed by his father to take over political leadership in Bukenya’s constituency before he died mysteriously in a car accident at Bira Trading Centre, in November 2019.  “Brian has been very well behaved and honest. I had thought he would replace me. But he has died. He is leaving me here. I am very sad,” Bukenya said, during a requiem mass at Rubaga Cathedral.

Will Gen. Wamala outlive the wrath of Gen. Museveni?  

Columnist Matogo can be contacted via [email protected]

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