General Aronda Nyakairima, who was 56, died while passing through Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said in a statement.
Nyakairima died early yesterday according to Pamela Ankunda, a spokeswoman for the ministry of internal affairs.
Nyakairima, who trained in the US as a young officer, was “a dedicated servant of the people of Uganda and his death is a huge loss to the country,” the statement said.
The cause of death is not yet known and a team of pathologists has been dispatched to Dubai to assist with the post-mortem examination.
Nyakairima served as interior minister since 2013. He had previously been the top commander of Uganda’s military and was credited with helping to push infamous warlord Joseph Kony from Ugandan territory.
His death has shocked many in Uganda, where in 2013 he was cited in a letter by a renegade Ugandan general, David Sejusa, who said he was one of three senior public officials who risked being assassinated because they opposed the political rise of the son of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. That letter also mentioned former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, who has since announced he will challenge Museveni in elections next year.
Nyakairima’s sudden death will be seen by many “in the context” of Sejusa’s letter, which asked Uganda’s security agencies to investigate the allegations of planned hits, said Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, a prominent Ugandan rights lawyer.