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Gen. Elly Tumwine: Fired the first shot in NRA war

Former security minister Gen Elly Tumwine is dead (PHOTO /File)

KAMPALA — IT was early in the morning of February 6, 1981, when a youthful Gen Elly Tumwine fired a shot – the first one in the National Resistance Army (NRA) war.

This shot marked the beginning of the 1981-86 war that brought the NRM regime to power.

Today, Thursday, August 25, the bush-war general who has been fighting for his life at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, where he was airlifted two weeks ago, has died.

Gen Tumwine’s health had been a subject of public speculation for a while, even when he was still a Cabinet minister.

The National Resistance Army (NRA) historical had been away from the public eye ever since he was dropped from Cabinet in June 2021

Gen. Elly Tumwine was in charge of this battle preparation, writes Lt. Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, in his book, Battles of the Ugandan Resistance.

It was arranged that the first unit, led by Gen. Sam Magara, would attack the armoury, the second, under Elly Tumwine, would neutralise the guards at the gate, while the third, under Hannington Mugabi, would go for the arms stores.

Enroute to the attack, Tumwine occupied the front seat of the truck that had been occupied by Gen Yoweri Museveni throughout the journey.

This was intended to avert any suspicion from the guards, in case they recognised Gen. Museveni.

Just before Nkonge, the convoy briefly stopped and Gen Tumwine jumped off and he was left behind by the convoy in the dark.

“I chased it on foot, he later said. This was a harrowing experience. He later caught up with the convoy when it stopped to make final preparations. As he approached the convoy, Gen Museveni saw him running alongside the driver’s cabin. When it stopped, he disembarked and allowed Tumwine to take the front seat.

During the early years of the war, he was in charge of a unit that controlled the Kampala-Hoima road, especially in Kateera. In the process, he lost an eye during a battle in the rocky hills of Bukomero, not far away from Katera.

When the NRA came to power in 1986, he was named the Army Commander, then defence state minister, Director General of the External Security Organisation (ESO), a presidential advisor and later, chairman of the General Court Martial.

Tumwine attended Mbarara High School, St. Henry’s College, Kitovu and Makerere University, where he completed a degrre in Fine Art. With a Diploma in Education a well, he started teaching Fine Art.

However, he abandoned the chalk to join the army with FRONASA.

He trained as a cadet in Monduli, Tanzania. The born-again soldier also does singing and fashion design.

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