What you need to know:
- War erupted in Ethiopia, the host of the headquarters of the African Union (AU), a year ago when Ethiopian military forces in Tigray, which had dominated the country’s politics for decades, launched attacks against the government of Mr Abiy, a nobel peace prize winner.
The United Nation Under-Secretary, Ms Winnie Byanyima, yesterday called on the Uganda People’s Defence Forces Land Forces commander, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to stop commenting about the raging Ethiopian war, warning it risked lives of Ugandans.
Ms Byanyima, the executive director of Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) and wife of Uganda’s Opposition politician, Dr Kizza Besigye, made the comments in a rejoinder to a tweet by Lt Gen Muhoozi praising Tigrayan rebel forces, fighting to topple Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
She made the comments in her personal capacity.
War erupted in Ethiopia, the host of the headquarters of the African Union (AU), a year ago when Ethiopian military forces in Tigray, which had dominated the country’s politics for decades, launched attacks against the government of Mr Abiy, a nobel peace prize winner.
In a series of tweets, Lt Gen Muhoozi, who is also the son of President Museveni, has shown support for Tigray rebels and accused Ethiopian forces of raping women and murdering innocent people.
On November 5, Lt Gen Muhoozi tweeted: “I urge my great and brave brothers in the Tigrayan Defence Forces to listen to the words of General Yoweri Museveni! I am as angry as you and I support your cause. Those who raped our Tigrayan sisters and killed our brothers must be punished!”
In a tweet the next day, he added: “Our great Tigrayan brothers and sisters cannot be defeated. They have an unconquerable spirit!”
The tweets, which have caused unease in the ministry of Foreign Affairs, the official state arm to conduct international affairs, over concerns that they could be misconstrued as the official position of the state of Uganda.
In a rejoinder to Lt Gen Muhoozi’s tweets, Ms Byanyima, one of Uganda’s top-ranking diplomats, tweeted: “Please, delete this tweet. It is risking the lives of Ugandans working and living in Ethiopia.” The Ethiopian government is battling Tigrayan rebels from the north, who have captured key cities and are threatening to advance to the capital city, Addis Ababa.
Mr Abiy raced to Uganda to consult with President Museveni, the father of Lt Gen Muhoozi, as the war raged on in Ethiopia and Mr Museveni will, according to State House, next Monday host an Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) summit to, among other things, discuss the Ethiopian crisis.
Many Ugandan citizens work with either the United Nations, African Union or other international agencies based in Addis Ababa, considered Africa’s diplomatic capital.
In yesterday’s response, Ms Byanyima said Lt Gen Muhoozi’s tweets were partisan, something the UPDF Land Forces Commander spurned.
“Madame Winnie. Good to hear fm (from) you. It’s been a long time. I last saw you in SH (State House) in 1987. It is the responsibility of the Ethiopian gov’t (government) to protect all citizens & (and) visitors in Addis & (and) the res t of the country. If the (Tigrayan Defence Forces) TDF is doing it in areas they control, why shouldn’t the gov’t (government)?”
Efforts to get a comment from the State Minister for International Affairs, Mr Okello Oryem, on Lt Gen Muhoozi’s statements on Ethiopia, were futile.
In August, UPDF and Defence spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso, said Lt Gen Kainerugaba’s tweets on internal matters of foreign countries were his personal views and rights.
Previously, UPDF commanders such as Henry Tumukunde, a retired UPDF lieutenant general, have been arraigned in court for expressing views outside the established confines of the army, considered under the UPDF Act as prejudicial to the good order and discipline in the defence forces.
In December 2017, the army prosecuted six soldiers for their posts in a WhatsApp group with conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline and they were convicted before being sentenced to two months in jail.
During the tension between Egypt and Ethiopia over the construction of a dam on the River Nile in Ethiopia, Lt Gen Kainerugaba posted a picture of him with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi and wrote, “if anybody thinks of fighting Egypt, he should know he will be fighting Uganda as well.”
Who is Gen Muhoozi?
The Commander of UPDF Land Forces
Born on April 24, 1974 in Tanzania to President Yoweri Museveni and his wife, Janet Kataha, then in exile. He joined the army initially as a Local Defence Unit (LDU) recruit, before he in 1999 trained as a Cadet Officer.
A year later, he went to Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom in an arrangement emanating from the 1995. He was deployed in the Presidential Protection Unit, which later became Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB) before being transformed to the Special Forces Command, which he commanded. Muhoozi also undertook training in South Africa and at Fort Leavenworth, the United States. In July 2021, President Museveni, the commander-in-chief, appointed him as the Commander of UPDF Lands Forces and Special Advisor on Special Operations.
LT GEN MUHOOZI’S TWEETS
November 7: 12:07am: Madame Winnie. Good to hear fm you. It’s been a long time. I last saw you in SH (State House) in 1987. It is the responsibility of the Ethiopian gov’t to protect all citizens & visitors in Addis & the rest of the country. If the TDF is doing it in areas they control, why shouldn’t the gov’t?
November 6: 7:34am: Our great Tigrayan brothers and sisters cannot be defeated. They have an unconquerable spirit! #JohnHaftu in Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) song 2021 https://youtu.be/vxkcmjspmIU via
November 5: 7:26pm: I urge my great and brave brothers in the Tigrayan Defence Forces to listen to the words of General Yoweri Museveni! I am as angry as you and I support your cause. Those who raped our Tigrayan sisters and killed our brothers must be punished!
September 20: 05:15am: I don’t know why my brothers in Ethiopia are fighting me? It makes me sad. You are now fighting my tribe in Tigray. Tigrayans are part of us. God is the one who protects us!