Uganda: Muhoozi, son of President Museveni, replaced as head of army

By Romain Gras

Posted on Wednesday, 5 October 2022 18:22
Muhoozi Kainerugaba (Photo twitter: @mkainerugaba)

Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Yoweri Museveni’s son and potential successor, was sacked in June 2021. Known for his outbursts on social media, he has since been promoted to the rank of four-star general without being given new duties.

Did Muhoozi Kainerugaba become too cumbersome for his father president? The Ugandan army’s number 3 since being appointed army commander on 24 June 2021, the head of state decided to replace the 48-year-old general on 4 October with General Muhanga Kayanja.

The latter had previously commanded the Ugandan army contingents deployed in eastern DRC to fight the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). General Kayanja is also the brother of Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan journalist who is one of Muhoozi’s close friends.

‘Two weeks to capture Nairobi’

This decision comes a day after Muhoozi spoke out for the umpteenth time on social media. Known for his surprising and often undiplomatic tweets, Museveni’s son published a series of improbable statements on 3 October, stating in particular that it would only take “two weeks for his army to capture Nairobi”.

“Once our army has captured Nairobi, where should I live? Westlands? Riverside?” he added, citing areas around the Kenyan capital, while adding that he was disappointed that Uhuru Kenyatta had not run for a third term in Kenya’s latest presidential polls in August.

Kenyatta, who officially stepped down as president in early September, had received Muhoozi on several occasions over the past year. Kenyatta’s successor, William Ruto, has a reputation for maintaining good relations with Museveni.

Is this why, in view of the lively controversy, the decision was made to replace the Ugandan president’s son? In any case, this series of events has prompted the Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify the situation and specify that Kampala “does not conduct [its] foreign policy on social media”.

Four stars

This is not the first time that Muhoozi’s tweets have led to a diplomatic imbroglio. Uganda’s defence minister had to travel to Ethiopia in May after a message in support of the Tigray rebels was published.

Muhoozi’s role in Uganda and Rwanda’s rapprochement and some of his publications on the situation in eastern DRC, have also contributed to the mistrust felt by part of the Congolese administration towards Kampala.

Should this dismissal be seen as a sanction? Probably not. Although replaced as head of the army, Muhoozi has been promoted to the rank of four-star general. He also maintains his position as the president’s special advisor. Since joining the army 25 years ago, he has enjoyed a meteoric rise within the defence forces.

In 2009, at the age of 35, he took over the Special Forces Command (SFC), which has become one of the most sophisticated units in the Ugandan army. ”

Muhoozi” has been tipped for several years to succeed his father as head of state and his 48th birthday celebrations last April had a pre-campaign feel to them.

Although his 2026 candidacy remains hypothetical, it is, in practice, conditional on certain prerequisites, notably his father’s will to authorise this succession. Muhoozi must also retire from the army, in accordance with the Ugandan Constitution, before he can run for president. Although he had announced his retirement from the army in March on Twitter, he has since retracted his statement.

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