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Gen. Muntu on why he declined ministerial appointment after serving as Army Commander

Gen. Mugisha Muntu (Courtesy photo)

The Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) President Gen. Mugisha Muntu has advised that it is time for the country to rethink the army structures in case the country is to transition from military rule.

The longest serving army commander made the submission during last week’s #AskMuntu session organized by the ANT opposition party.

Below is Muntu’s submission explaining why he declined to a ministerial appointment after being dropped as the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).

I was asked, why I declined a ministerial appointment and instead chose to retire after my time as army commander. There were political reasons, but largely, it was a value-based decision.

From both a practical and conceptual point of view, there was no reason to remain in the forces. Having served as Army Commander, any position I would take after that (in the army) would be both substantively and actually a step down. While I personally didn’t mind that, it would have raised several problems.

First, my successor would have been put in the very uncomfortable position of recognising me as his predecessor while also establishing his authority. Both senior and junior officers would also struggle with the chain of command raising the possibilities of indiscipline or lack of cohesion. Given our history and fractured loyalties as a nation, the last thing we need is an army with various, competing centres of power.

Politically, I wasn’t particularly keen on taking up a political appointment while also serving in the army. I had earlier argued (both as Army Commander and Army MP) against the continued presence of the army in Parliament. A ministerial appointment contradicted this position.

Of course I had grown increasingly sceptical of Gen. Museveni’s commitment to the ideals we fought for. But more than that, I was intent on ensuring I did not make the mistakes I was calling him out for.

The UPDF has many well trained and disciplined officers. Yet the reality remains that it can only be as disciplined as its (civilian) leadership. To complete the transition to a professionalised force under the command if civilian leadership, there must be a commitment to keep the army from partisan politics. This is neither the case today nor the direction the Commander-in-Chief appears resolved to take.

Ultimately therefore, the task of building the insitutionalised army and indeed country we all desire falls on all citizens of good will both within the forces and among civilians. Until those in favor of such changes form the majority of Ugandans, our transition from a military state remains precarious.

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