Museveni stops Muhoozi social media security talk

L-R: Gen Wilson Mbadi, the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Museveni, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Commander of Land Forces 

What you need to know:

  •  The Commander-in-Chief in a radio call message to security and intelligence service chiefs said that social media is not bad, and tasked the Commander of Land Forces, and other UPDF generals, to use the platforms to discuss sports, political ideology, education and youth issues.

President Museveni has reportedly stopped top military commanders, including his son and Commander of Land Forces (CLF), Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, from commenting about security and foreign policy issues on social media platforms.

The decision followed a meeting the Commander-in-Chief held with service chiefs in the south-western Ntungamo District at the weekend, days after Deputy Chief of Defence Forces (D/CDF), Lt Gen Peter Elwelu, placed Uganda’s military on Standby Class 1.

This is the highest level of combat readiness and the order proscribes movement of troops and military equipment, and requires commanders to conduct regular daily roll calls to establish whereabouts of soldiers and what they are doing.

Lt Gen Elwelu did not provide the reason for the Wednesday emergency radio call message, which came into force after President Museveni crossed to a heroic welcome in Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm).

Hours later, Lt Gen Muhoozi reportedly countermanded the high alert order for troops under his command, the Land Forces. In the military hierarchy, the CDF ranks number one, followed by the deputy while the CLF is third in command.

The disparate radio call message prompted President Museveni, who made the return trip to Kigali by road, to issue a separate order in which he, while referencing Lt Gen Elwelu’s message, summoned the top army leadership for a 12pm meeting in Ntungamo where he camped upon return.

Among those summoned were the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Wilson Mbadi, who had been in Kenya conferring with regional counterparts on details of an East Africa Force to pacify eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), D/CDF Elwelu, CLF Muhoozi, service chiefs and other commanders deemed relevant to issues for discussions.

The meeting ended slightly after 6pm.

Highly-placed security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the President during the meeting delved into how reckless behaviour had claimed lives of illustrious commanders of UPDF and its predecessor outfit, the National Resistance Army (NRA).

He then warned the commanders to desist from promiscuity and drunkenness.

Social media use

In accounts of the deliberations, corroborated in the commander-in-chief’s Sunday radio call message to service chiefs, Gen Museveni noted that he had agreed with “my people”, a reference to top military leadership, social media is not bad in itself, but the issue is how it is used.

He asked the CLF and other commanders to desist from discussing or commenting on international relations issues on social media, telling them instead to use the platforms to discuss sports, youth issues, political ideology and education.

It remained unclear which specific social media commentaries were deemed problematic.

Lt Gen Muhoozi, who has slightly more than 568,000 followers on Twitter, is the most vocal and prolific UPDF officer engaged on the micro-blogging site.

His comments over the past several months have included vouching support for Tigray rebels fighting Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy’s government, offering to back Rwanda in any conflict, praising self for brokering a thawing of two-year frosty Kampala-Kigali relationship and, in February, he tweeted that “majority of (non-white) mankind” supported Russia on Ukraine invasion.

Contacted yesterday to corroborate the contents of the President’s Sunday radio call message, UPDF Spokesman, Brig Felix Kulayigye, said it was “clear” this newspaper already had the information it was seeking to corroborate.

“Your source should confirm with you, not me,” he said, declining further comments.

According to multiple accounts, Gen Museveni promised, without specifying the period, that he will provide a detailed brief about how military commanders should relate.