KAMPALA, Uganda — A wanted Ugandan general who questioned the president's succession plan has requested the protection of British police and won't return home anytime soon, his lawyer said Sunday.
Gen. David Sejusa is now hiding from Ugandan undercover agents allegedly sent to track him down in London, where he is traveling, said Ugandan lawyer Joseph Luzige.
"Sejusa told me there is a team of people who have been sent to London to hunt him down," the attorney said. "He said these people's intentions are not good at all."
Luzige said Sejusa, a spy chief who sits on Uganda's military high command, believes his life is in danger and is now "very cautious."
Judith Nabakooba, the spokeswoman for Ugandan police, said she couldn't comment on this matter. "I've not been briefed," she said.
Sejusa, who directs Uganda's domestic and foreign spy agencies, recently wrote a letter to the internal security service urging an investigation into reports that those opposed to the rise of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's son risk assassination. Details of the letter were published in a Kampala daily whose premises have since been occupied by police looking for evidence against Sejusa.
Sejusa cited himself, Uganda's prime minister, and a since-fired army boss among those at risk of being killed in an allegedly secret plan for Museveni's son to succeed his father as president. The general's concerns have stirred controversy in Uganda, where divisions among the military elite are rarely revealed in public. Uganda's army leadership has accused Sejusa of breaking the country's military laws, while a government minister who speaks for Museveni said the general has "clear presidential ambitions."
The operations of Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper have since been shut down by police who want its journalists to reveal how they obtained a copy of Sejusa's letter. The journalists have resisted these efforts, saying they go against freedom of the press. In a statement Friday, Amnesty International urged Ugandan authorities to stop what it called "an attack on freedom of expression."
Museveni, who has held power in Uganda for nearly three decades, has never said he sees his son as his political heir. But the son, a senior army official named Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has been rapidly promoted in the army over the years, leading many here to believe he is being groomed for high office. Last year he was promoted to the rank of brigadier in changes that saw him take full charge of the country's special forces, an elite unit within the military that protects the president and guards national assets such as oil fields. In this position Kainerugaba answers directly to his father.
Sejusa, a decorated hero of the bush war that brought Museveni to power in 1986, has a history of standing up to the president. In the 1990s he tried and failed to quit the army after accusing its leadership of incompetence in battles against the fugitive warlord Joseph Kony. Analysts say he is one of an older generation of army officers who are disgruntled over the first son's growing influence in the military.
Just over two weeks since details of Sejusa's letter became public, Museveni on Friday announced changes in the military that saw the ouster of army chief Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, who had been cited in Sejusa's letter as among those opposed to the rise to Museveni's son. Nyakairima now has a new role as interior minister, a civilian post that effectively cuts off his links to the army's chain of command.
It remains unclear if Museveni, who was re-elected in 2011, will run again when his term expires in 2016. But he faces growing pressure within his party to retire, with rival centers of power emerging as his power fades. Some say Sejusa may be positioning himself to become the leader of those within the military who want to discourage Museveni from hanging onto power or propping up his son as a future leader.