Noble Mayombo

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From UgandaWiki, the Uganda Online encyclopedia

Brig. Noble Mayombo (b. 09 April 1965 d. 01 May 2007) was one of the public and more controversial faces of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government of Yoweri Museveni. He died in hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, at the age of 42 after suffering multiple organ failures. Although the cause of his death was put down as acute pancreatitis, there were speculations of foul play, resulting in an investigative committee being instituted by the government to enquire into his death.


[edit] Early life

Mayombo was born in Fort Portal town, Kabarole district, Western Uganda. He attended Nyakasura and Ntare secondary schools in Kabarole. He obtained a Bachelor of Laws (1991) and a Masters of Law (1999) from Makerere University, Kampala.

[edit] Career beginnings

Col. Mayombo
Col. Mayombo

Mayombo abandoned law school at Makerere University in 1985 to join the National Resistance Army (NRA)/NRM in the final year of its military campaign against the governments of Milton Obote and Okello Lutwa. Renowned as an intelligent and articulate soldier-politician, he shot through the military ranks, rising from being President Museveni's aide de camp to hearing the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, one of the three main intelligence services. By the time of his death, he was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence.

Mayombo first caught public attention when he contested against another equally intelligent and articulate law student, Norbert Mao, for the highly political post of President of the Students' Guild at Makerere University in 1989. Mayombo lost the election, largely due to the baggage of strong links to the ruling military elite.

[edit] Meteoric rise

Between 1994 and 1995, he was one of the army's 10 representatives in the Constituent Assembly that wrote the 1995 Ugandan Constitution. He was subsequently appointed by President Museveni his aide de camp (1996 - 1997) at the rank of captain, a move that surprised many. Critics argued his talents were being misused, but the appointment was understood to be a test by the President of his loyalty. If it was a test, he passed it well enough to be appointed Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence (1998 - 2000) at the rank of major. In 1999, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

[edit] Career controversies

Between 2000 and 2004, he served as Chief of Military Intelligence as well as one of the army's representatives in Parliament. He was promoted to the rank of colonel in 2002. As head of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, he was accused of being one of the architects of "Safe Houses", secret detention centres of questionable legality where alleged rebels, "terrorists" and opponents of the NRM regime were often kept incommunicado and tortured. The notorious "safe houses" were roundly condemned by human rights groups, including the state's own Uganda Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Watch. [1]

Although the electoral laws prohibited the military from involvement in politics, Mayombo played a key role in the re-election of President Museveni in 2001. He was accused of harassing Museveni's opponents, distributing money to fund Museveni's campaigns and directly campaigning for him. In one of the enduring images of his controversial career, he was accused of playing a key role in the abduction and enforced exile to the United Kingdom of his younger brother, Maj. Okwir Rwaboni, a supporter of the opposition, in 2001.

In its 2002 report, a United Nations panel investigation into the activities of occupation forces, including the Ugandan military, in the Democratic Republic of Congo implicated Mayombo, along with other top officers of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), in the plunder of resources from the country.

In 2005, Mayombo was promoted the rank of brigadier and appointed Permenent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, a position he held till his death. He was also the Board Chairman of the government-owned newspaper, the New Vision.

[edit] Notes

  1. Human Rights Watch: State of Pain: Torture in Uganda, March 2004, Vol. 16, No. 4(A)
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