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First Son’s take. Brig Muhoozi says Uganda is not a monarchy for his father to transfer power to him, but adds he’s eligible to contest the presidency as laid out in the Constitution
First Son Muhoozi Kainerugaba has for the first time broken his silence on the succession debate, and denied allegations that his rise and key placement in the military command is a ploy to sidestep the law and have him replace his father as president.
“Uganda is not a monarchy where leadership is passed on from father to son. This so-called (Muhoozi) project is a people’s creation,” the Brigadier said in a statement released by Special Forces Spokesman Edson Kwesiga.
Brig Muhoozi, 39, is a one-star general and commands the 10,000-strong Special Forces Command, considered the engine of the Ugandan army, and responsible for guarding the President plus the country’s most-sensitive assets, including the oil fields.
Capt Kwesiga yesterday told the Daily Monitor that he posted the comments on Facebook because of sustained debate on the social media about public perceptions of possible transfer of power from President Museveni to Brigadier Muhoozi --- and questions why the First Son was hesitant to pronounce himself on the matter.
In the statement, Brig Muhoozi appears to question why he was being sucked into the succession debate when he has “not declared that he wants to stand for President”. “The power to choose how Uganda is governed lies with Ugandans and not a single individual (President Museveni) as some people would want us to believe,” Capt Kwesiga said.
Referring to Brig Muhoozi, Capt Kwesiga said: “He says that Uganda is not a monarchy where leadership is passed on from father to son. However, he is a Ugandan who qualifies to stand for any elective position of his choice.”
The Constitution provides that any Ugandan, who is a citizen by birth, is not under 35 or above 75 years; and, has completed at least high Advanced-level education or its equivalent is eligible to present themselves for election as President.
But the laws prevent serving military officers from diving into partisan politics, meaning Brig Muhoozi would have to retire from the UPDF if he were to throw his hat in the political ring.
Whereas his position in yesterday’s statement reads ambivalent, it is the closest indication thus far that the Special Forces commander does not rule out the possibility of him giving a shot at the highest political office in the land. “This would require him to retire from the army, offer himself to the electorate who would either vote him in or choose not to,” Capt Kwesiga’s noted.
Critics, among them opposition leaders Olara Otunnu and Kizza Besigye, have publicly said they have no problem with Brig Muhoozi becoming President if Ugandans vote him in a free, fair and transparent ballot --- and not imposed on the country by President Museveni.
Gen David Sejusa, originally Tinyefuza, the troubled coordinator of intelligence agencies, put the country on the tenterhooks by alleging that some senior military and government officials perceived hostile to rumoured arrangements to have the First Son succeed President Museveni were being targeted for elimination.
Talk that the First Son was being fast-tracked to become president have done the rounds following what is perceived as his fast-paced promotion, for instance, to a brigadier within 12 years when most UPDF serving one-star generals took 20 years or more before attaining the rank.
Another notable officer who became a Brigadier at a relatively young age was Mugisha Muntu, who later became army commander before breaking ranks with the NRM. He now leads opposition party FDC.