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Uganda’s President Appoints Son as Top Army Commander

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On Thursday, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni made a significant decision by appointing his son as the top military commander, sparking controversy in a nation where many suspect Museveni of grooming his eldest child for the presidency.

The newly appointed top military figure is Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who has been actively engaged in rallies across the country, a move that defies a law prohibiting serving army officers from involvement in partisan politics. Despite this, Kainerugaba insists that his endeavors, including the recent establishment of the Patriotic League of Uganda, are nonpartisan and intended to foster patriotism among Ugandans.

Kainerugaba’s promotion to this new role was announced late Thursday through a military statement. Moreover, two of his closest advisors have been granted ministerial positions in a government ministerial reshuffle, announced concurrently, sparking speculation that Museveni is backing Kainerugaba’s political aspirations.

Museveni, who seized power in 1986 and has been re-elected six times, has not disclosed his retirement plans. With no contenders emerging within the ruling National Resistance Movement party, many speculate that the military will play a pivotal role in selecting his successor. Observers note that Kainerugaba’s allies hold strategic positions within the security services.

Uganda’s next presidential election is slated for 2026. Supporters of Kainerugaba argue that his ascent presents Uganda with an opportunity for a peaceful transition of power, a rarity in a country that has not experienced one since gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1962. However, opposition figures and critics fear that Kainerugaba’s rise signals a drift towards hereditary rule in East Africa.

Kainerugaba’s military journey began in the late 1990s, and his rapid ascent to the top echelons of the armed forces has been met with criticism, with detractors labeling it the “Muhoozi Project,” purportedly designed to groom him for the presidency. Despite Museveni and Kainerugaba denying the existence of such a scheme, signs indicate a gradual transition, especially as Museveni, aged 79, nears what could potentially be his final term without a clear successor within the civilian government.

Until recently, Kainerugaba served as a senior presidential advisor overseeing special operations, following his removal as infantry commander in 2022 due to a series of controversial tweets, including one where he made threats against the capital of neighboring Kenya. Previously, he held the position of commander of an elite unit responsible for safeguarding the first family.