Museveni explains son's promotion to four-star general

A photo montage of President Yoweri Museveni (right) and his son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba (left).

What you need to know:

  • Although Gen Kainerugaba has repeatedly denied claims he intends to succeed his 78-year-old father -- one of Africa's longest-serving leaders -- he has enjoyed a rapid rise through Uganda's army ranks and has often sparked controversy on social media.

President Museveni on Wednesday issued a statement justifying the move to promote his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba to a four-star general despite a Twitter meltdown, warning that he (Muhoozi) would only need two weeks with his army to capture Kenya's capital, Nairobi. 
According to the president, there are many other positive contributions the former Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Commander Land Forces (CLF) has made and can still make. 

“This is because this mistake (comments on Kenya) is one aspect where he has acted negatively as a public officer. There are, however, many other positive contributions the General has made and can still make. This is a time-tested formula – discourage the negative and encourage the positive,” Mr Museveni said in the Wednesday afternoon statement. 
At 48, the senior presidential advisor special operations becomes the youngest serving four-star general, giving him a wider clout in the aftermath of the mass retirement of generals of the Bush War that catapulted Museveni to power in January 1986.

Rapid promotions 
Although Gen Kainerugaba has repeatedly denied claims he intends to succeed his 78-year-old father -- one of Africa's longest-serving leaders -- he has enjoyed a rapid rise through Uganda's army ranks and has often sparked controversy on social media.
The move followed an endorsement on the weekend by some senior officials from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) who selected Museveni as their candidate in the country's 2026 presidential elections.

Soon after, Kainerugaba on Monday triggered a firestorm on Twitter with tweets discussing plans to invade Kenya.
"It wouldn't take us, my army and me, 2 weeks to capture Nairobi," he said on Monday evening, before doing an about-turn.
"I would never beat up the Kenyan army because my father told me never to attempt it! So our people in Kenya should relax!"
The social media fracas forced Uganda's foreign ministry to wade into the issue and release a statement expressing its "commitment to good neighbourliness (and) peaceful coexistence" with Kenya.

 'Lower his profile' 
Kainerugaba is not shy about airing his views on foreign policy, offering up his opinions on subjects ranging from last year's coup in Guinea to the brutal war in northern Ethiopia.
"One potential explanation of Muhoozi's Twitter storm over the last days is the endorsement of his father for the 2026 elections by top-NRM officials over the weekend," said Kristof Titeca, an expert on Central African affairs at the University of Antwerp.

"This could have triggered him, as he might also be eyeing the 2026 elections," Titeca told AFP.
"It can be questioned whether this promotion effectively entails more power. It could be perceived as a way to lower his profile, and reduce his real power."
A Ugandan political analyst who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity agreed, saying "the elevation to general was a cosmetic move (by Museveni) to avoid upsetting" his son.
Kainerugaba will continue to serve as a high-profile presidential adviser on special operations -- a role that extends into the political sphere. 


 

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