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Uganda’s President Museveni Appoints Son, Muhoozi As Military Chief

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Uganda’s President Museveni Appoints Son, Muhoozi As Military Chief

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Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, made minor changes to his cabinet, he also appointed his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to be head of the military. Analysts say the appointment puts Museveni’s son in line to be president – but only if Museveni, in power for nearly four decades, is unable to continue.

Museveni’s son, generally referred to as Muhoozi, was named chief of defense forces Thursday night, replacing General Wilson Mbusa Mbadi, who was appointed a junior minister of trade.

The 49-year-old Muhoozi has been away from active military command for two years. He was removed from his previous job as head of land forces for his controversial posts on Twitter, now known as X.

In various tweets, he had threatened to invade and capture Nairobi within two weeks, voiced support for Tigray rebels fighting the Ethiopian government, and expressed approval of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to the Ugandan constitution, a serving military officer is not allowed to be involved in political activities. But Muhoozi ignored that, not only voicing his opinions but also making his political ambitions public.

More recently, Muhoozi formed the Patriotic League of Uganda. The group is considered a civic organization rather than a political party to possibly sidestep any constitutional issues.

Museveni has been grooming his son for the presidency for years – although Godber Tumushabe, director of the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, does not think a transfer of power is imminent.

“One has to realize that Museveni is a life president. I don’t think that Museveni can allow his son to be president when he is alive. That will only happen when God has called him or when he has become so incapacitated to be president,” Tumushabe said.

Sarah Bireete, executive director for the non-profit Center for Constitutional Governance, says Museveni had been tasked by the central executive committee of the ruling NRM party to sort out the issue of Muhoozi’s political future before the 2026 elections.

Thursday’s move indicates that Museveni, at age 81, plans to run for another term as president. Bireete says it also indicates that the army, led by Muhoozi, will be on his side.

“They have been known to abuse human rights during elections,” Bireete said. “We have the unresolved Kampala extrajudicial killings where the army was involved. So, we expect that now with the technical head of the army in the name of the CDF (Chief of Defence Forces) who has a clear political ambition, who has a clear partisan leaning of either the father or himself, we expect him to use the army more visibly.”

Museveni has been in power since 1986 and has often used security forces to suppress political opposition.

Analysts say that, assuming Museveni wins another term two years from now, the army’s conduct will be under intense scrutiny, as observers watch for signs of a transfer of power.