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Lawyers Set to Challenge Uganda over General’s Retirement Request

  • Peter Clottey

General David Sejusa (credit Sejusa)

General David Sejusa (credit Sejusa)

A team of lawyers is preparing to legally challenge the Ugandan government’s refusal to approve a retirement request from renegade army General David Sejusa.

David Mushabe, a leading member of the legal team, said the army used double standards and the discretion of President Yoweri Museveni — the commander in chief — to retire senior army officers.

Sejusa applied to be retired from the army on December 30, 2014. By law, the army has 90 days to let Sejusa know whether his application has been approved.

“It’s not up to 60 days or 90 days yet, but we are ready to keep watching the clock and the calendar. Once it hits 90 days, then we need to ask the government why they are not retiring my client,” said Mushabe. “The retirement process is subject to the discretion of the powers that be. It depends on whether or not you are being viewed as a threat.

“You realize that not everybody can be retired or not everybody would be allowed to retire. … For us as lawyers, we are saying we could take legal action demanding to apply the same standards like that which has been applied to others who have retired."

Mushabe’s comments came after army spokesman Paddy Ankunda said Sejusa would be contacted within the next 90 days.

The Observer, a Ugandan publication, quotes Ankunda as saying “Sejusa should be patient. The Commissions and Promotions Board will sit soon to consider his application. There is no reason to panic. We shall get back to him in 90 days.”

But Sejusa’s supporters say this is yet another attempt by the government to deliberately slow the process to frustrate him.

Attorney Mushabe said it appears the administration wants to frustrate Sejusa.

“We received a letter from the chief of defense forces, General Katumba Wamala, writing in reply to my letter, which I had written asking about the status of the discharge. General Wamala in his letter said that he was going to wait for the president to respond as to whether or not General Sejusa is going to be discharged. ... So in a way he was washing his hands off to say, look, ask the commander in chief,” said Mushabe.

Sejusa and his lawyers recently met with Museveni, and an agreement was reportedly reached that includes his retirement from the military.

Mushabe said the president did not “unequivocally” state that Sejusa would be retired from the army to enable him to continue his political activities as an opposition leader.

Sejusa recently returned to Uganda after a self-imposed exile. He left the country after demanding an investigation into an alleged succession plan, which he said would ensure the son of Museveni is installed as successor. The plan, Sejusa also said, seeks to assassinate all those opposed to the idea. Both the government and the military denied the existence of any such succession plan.

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