Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s appointment of his son as a senior adviser may be a move to stem dissent in the governing party and prepare a successor to his 30-year rule.
Museveni, who secured a fifth term in a 2016 vote, named Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the 42-year-old head of an elite military group, as his adviser for special operations. The chief of Uganda’s defence forces was also replaced, army spokesperson, Paddy Ankunda, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“For Museveni, last year’s election was a way of cementing his power and legacy and allowing him some time to consolidate,” said Ahmed Salim, an analyst at Dubai-based Teneo Intelligence. “Now we’re going to see more creeping adjustments in terms of who is going to succeed him.”
Museveni (72) has ruled Africa’s largest coffee exporter since 1986 and is one of the continent’s longest serving presidents, alongside Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Kainerugaba was promoted to major-general in May, a week after his father was sworn in for another term following disputed elections. Museveni’s main challenger, Kizza Besigye, rejected the results and was charged with treason after staging a mock swearing-in ceremony.
“The appointment may be to propel him into politics,” said Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a professor at Uganda’s Makerere University, said of Kainerugaba. “He can make political statements as an adviser, unlike in the military.”
Army spokesperson Ankunda wasn’t available to answer calls seeking comment on the appointment. He said via Twitter that “changes are normal and good for institutional growth.” The state-run Uganda Media Centre said the alterations “are not new and are well provided for by the Constitution.”
“The biggest issue with Muhoozi has been his meteoric rise within the military ranks,” said Salim. “For a number of conservative military ranks in the army, that’s been a point of contention between the government and the military apparatus. His appointment seems more political because being appointed a senior adviser moves him away from the military ranks into advising on the political government areas.”
Uganda’s $27-billion economy has had companies such as London-based Tullow Oil Plc and France’s Total SA developing its estimated 6.5-billion barrels of crude oil resources. While a foreign-aid recipient, Uganda plays a prominent role in the region, contributing troops for the African Union force fighting al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia and militarily backing South Sudan’s government when civil war erupted in late 2013. The country’s gross domestic product contracted 0.2% in the third quarter.
“Museveni is just trying to make sure his son is in a strong position to make sure there’s no mutiny in the ruling party,” Salim said. – Bloomberg