KAMPALA- Gen Salim Saleh and Gen Elly Tumwine have been appointed to oversee the execution of the new changes in the UPDF top command which saw Gen Katumba Wamala dropped as Chief of Defence Forces and replaced by a much younger officer, Gen David Muhoozi, who was promoted from a lower rank of Major General.
The Monday night reshuffle which shook up the military hierarchy also saw other senior army officers deployed to new positions.
The President and Commander-in-Chief , Yoweri Museveni, promoted Maj Gen David Muhoozi from Major General to General, one rank higher, and named him successor to Gen Katumba, who was appointed State minister for Works.
The military shake-up also saw the President’s son Maj Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who had been commander of the presidential guard, Special Forces Command, appointed senior presidential adviser on Special Operations.
“The promotions take immediate effect. The handovers will be arranged accordingly and the President has instructed that Gen Salim Saleh and Gen Tumwine preside over these handovers and takeovers,” said Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, spokesman of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
The reshuffle announced through a military message and dispatched to all army units places seven young army officers in top and sensitive command positions.
The new officers who were appointed to the positions of Chief of Defence Forces, Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, commanders of Air Force, Land Forces, Special Forces, Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and Chieftaincy of Logistics are much younger than their predecessors, having joined the army between 1986 and 1997, after Museveni’s takeover of power by his guerrillas.
Previously, these command positions were mainly occupied by officers who joined the military in 1970s and early 1980s many of whom fought in the 1981-86 guerrilla war that brought Mr Museveni to power.
Many commentators perceive this reshuffle as a move by the President to phase out the army old guard who have the Bush War hangover and a claim to his ascendency to power and think he is perpetually indebted to them.
The young officers who have taken over the top command have no claim to President Museveni’s ascendency to power and therefore he is not burdened with the perception of indebtedness to them.
In the new shake-up, Brig Wilsom Mbadi, the former Joint Chief of Staff, is now the new Deputy Chief of Defence Forces and has been promoted to Lieutenant General.
Brig Mbadi replaces Lt Gen Charles Angina who also has replaced Maj Gen Nakibus Lakara. Maj Gen Lakara has not been redeployed.
Nobody has been named for the position of the new Joint Chief of Staff, so it remains vacant.
Brig Peter Elwelu, who recently commanded the attack on the Kasese palace of Rwenzururu king Charles Wesley Mumbere that left more than 100 people dead, was promoted to Major General and appointed Commander of Land Forces, the fourth top position in the UPDF hierarchy. He has replaced Maj Gen David Muhoozi, the new Chief of Defence Forces (CDF).
Maj Gen Elwelu’s appointment, however, has drawn criticism from politicians in Kasese who accuse him of presiding over the deadly attack on the king’s palace.
“It’s unfortunate that Brig Elwelu has been promoted to command the Land Forces with that bad criminal record against him. Was he being rewarded?” Kasese Municipality MP, Mr Robert Centenary, said.
However, Lt Col Ankunda defended Maj Gen Elwelu’s promotion, saying it was based on his experience in command both in Uganda and in peace keeping operations against al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.
“Our new commander of Land Forces Maj Gen Peter Elwelu, who has been until recently the Commander of 2nd Division, has commanded at several other levels, including the first UPDF Battle Group to Somalia in 2007. So, there should not be any questions whatsoever. These are very competent commanders and we should only wait to see what they do,” Lt Col Ankunda said.
In other army changes, Brig Charles Lutaaya, 54, is the new commander of Air Force, a key UPDF service force. He has replaced Maj Gen Sam Turyagyenda, 65, who has been appointed Senior Presidential Adviser on Air Force matters.