Friday,September 25,2020 06:42 AM

The life and times of Gen. Biraaro

By David Lumu

Added 12th February 2020 07:30 PM

“During his 2016 presidential campaign, Biraaro was very passionate about agricultural modernisation.

The life and times of Gen. Biraaro

Gen Biraaro with his supporters in Budaka district during the 2016 general elections (File photos)

“During his 2016 presidential campaign, Biraaro was very passionate about agricultural modernisation.


It was not until the January 2016 presidential debate that many Ugandans got to understand the man, his life and ideas.

Yet it was Maj. Gen. Benon Biraaro's eloquent flow of ideas, especially regarding the agriculture sector, that captured many.

His passion for the urgent need to modernise agriculture rather than his role in the trenches of Luwero during the 1981-1986 bush war that brought the current regime in power is, perhaps, the most enduring legacy of Biraaro in the eyes of Ugandans.

Whenever he got a chance to speak, Biraaro, whose trademark attire, away from the combat fatigues, was a cream suit, would slot in two or more words about commercial agriculture and his plan to achieve the agenda of transforming the over 68% of Ugandans currently trapped in traditional farming practices into modern farmers.

"During his 2016 presidential campaign, Biraaro was very passionate about agricultural modernisation.

His aspirations will be carried on," the National Resistance Movement (NRM) secretariat noted in a statement issued a few minutes after the news of Biraaro's passing on started to trickle in.

Biraaro was a bush war hero who also served at one time as the Principal Private Secretary to President Yoweri Museveni, also the NRM national chairperson.

Biraaro, 61, succumbed to colon cancer on Wednesday at Kampala Hospital. Last year, he told journalists that he had undergone successful heart surgery and that he was going to focus on his agriculture transformation journey through a personal initiative known as Local Investment for Transformation (LIFT) project.

He was the president-general of the Farmers' Party of Uganda, even though he contested for the 2016 presidential elections as an independent candidate.

Asked why he was contesting against Museveni, his former boss, Biraaro said the need to fight poverty through modern agriculture enticed him to throw in the hat for the country's top job.

According to Biraaro's 2016 presidential campaign manifesto, NRM needed to do more on the fight against poverty, and that if he was elected to lead the country, he would roll out his LIFT model as the magic bullet to the challenges.

Fresh from Makerere University, Biraaro was part of the group, described as "the so-called intellectuals" that joined the National Resistance Army (NRA) in 1982.

  en iraaro addressing a crowd in alaba Gen Biraaro addressing a crowd in Malaba 


The group also included people such as Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, among other young men and women, majority of whom had studied political science and law at Makerere University before joining the NRA/M bush war.

During the bush, Biraaro was the secretary of the NRA high command, which was chaired by Museveni.

When NRA/M captured power in 1986, Biraaro's first job was deputy principal private secretary to Museveni until he was appointed as Kitgum district administrator.

From Kitgum, Biraaro was posted to the National Leadership Institute, Kyankwanzi as deputy commandant.

He is also remembered for leading the fight against insurgencies in Teso sub-region during his time as the commander of the 97th battalion.

After a successful tour of duty in the eastern region, Biraaro was appointed as the commander of Military Police and later a director of training of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF).

He also served as the commandant of the Senior Command and Staff College, Kimaka in Jinja and later as the assistant chief of staff of UPDF.

In 1998, Biraaro commanded the UPDF contingent force to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and before he retired from the army in 2013, he was the chief of strategic planning and management unit at the African Union Peace and Security Council base in Ethiopia.


·  Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration from Makerere University

·  Masters in Strategic Planning (Global Security) Cranfield University, UK.


Military qualifications

·         Officer Cadet Course

·         Junior Staff College in the United Kingdom

·         Junior Command and Staff College at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna

·         Senior Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, US

·         Africa Strategic Studies Course at Nasser Military Academy, Cairo, Egypt



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