Muhoozi key allies in army revealed

President Museveni (L) and first son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba. PHOTO/COMBO

What you need to know:

  • Anecdotal evidence points to the presence of a Muhoozi rock-solid support system in the top echelons of the country’s military architecture that mirrors, if not better, what has been mustered in the apparatus of government.

President Museveni this past week named his son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, as Uganda’s army chief. Along with discharging duties as the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), the four-star general will still serve as presidential advisor in charge of special operations. 

Observers say the two positions will ensure Muhoozi gets “quality time” with his father, who looks likely to extend his presidency into a fourth decade in 2026. Paradoxically, the appointment of Muhoozi as CDF also offers the strongest hint, critics opine, as to who Museveni—set to turn 80 in September—wants to succeed him. The First Son has in the past few years covertly and overtly put together a support system that has spared no effort in a bid to ensure he looks very presidential in his performance.  

The support system has tentacles in most realms of the Ugandan fabric, including Parliament where lawmakers like Lillian Aber, Michael Mawanda, and Daudi Kabanda do his bidding. Ms Aber has since joined Museveni’s Cabinet where Muhoozi acolytes like Frank Tumwebaze abound.

But it is in the army ranks that hopes of a Muhoozi presidency can be actualised. Anecdotal evidence points to the presence of a rock-solid support system in the top echelons of the country’s military architecture that mirrors, if not better, what has been mustered in the apparatus of government.

Here are some of the serving officers in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in whom the First Son can find loyal allies. 

Lt Gen Kayanja Muhanga 

The older brother of veteran journalist Andrew Mwenda, an advocate of the Patriotic League of Uganda (PLU), Kayanja by extension is close to Muhoozi as their tendrils run across companionship and family ties. 
The young sister and junior Health minister, Margaret Muhanga, is another ardent fan of the PLU.

UPDF land forces commander Lt Gen Kayanja Muhanga addresses a gathering in Kasese District on October 23, 2023. PHOTO/ALEX ASHABA

Kayanja escaped mortar shells as the commander of the Battle Group Eight in Somalia that captured al-Shabab’s bastions in Mogadishu in 2011. He was previously deployed in Acholi Sub-region to fight LRA bands in the forested ravines of Pader District and across the gorges of Mountain Rwenzori, where he hunted ADF rebels. 

From 1993 until 1997, he served as an Intelligence Officer, attached to the UPDF barracks in Mubende. He was assigned to the Joint Anti-Terrorism Taskforce, at the rank of Captain. He was later promoted to the rank of Major, Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel and was posted to Mogadishu, Somalia, as part of the UPDF contingent to Amisom. While there, he commanded Uganda’s Battle Group Eight and concurrently served as the deputy commander for the Ugandan contingent in Somalia under the late Paul Lokech. He is the current Land Forces Commander, a coveted role, which is the third in the UPDF hierarchy. 

Lt Gen Sam Okiding

Lt Gen Sam Okiding is the incoming deputy Chief of Defence Forces and replaces Lt Gen Peter Elwelu. He previously served as the deputy chief of Land Forces at the time Gen Muhoozi served as the Chief of Land Forces. The affable Okiding had a good working relationship with Muhoozi.

Deputy CDF Lt Gen Sam Okiding. PHOTO/FILE/HANDOUT 

A veteran ofseveral battles, he has been serving as the Force Commander for The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) since May 17, 2023.  Gen Okiding has served in several roles in UPDF artillery corps and counter-insurgency operations. His appointments ranged from Artillery Regiment Commander, all the way to the top as the Commander, Artillery Division, a position he held from 2010 to 2021.

From 2015 to 2017, he was the Uganda Contingent Commander for African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom). He also served on Operation codenamed ‘Mwisho’ 1 and 2 in South Sudan against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) 1995 – 1998 as the Artillery Asset Commander. He participated Operation ‘Safe Haven’ against the Allied Defence Forces (ADF) in Congo in 2000–2003. He also served in Operation ‘Lightning Thunder’ against the LRA at Garamba in DRC, South Sudan, and Central African Republic from 2010 – 2011, among others.

Maj Gen Bob Ogiki

Bob Ogiki, who is currently undertaking the National Security and Strategy Course at the Kenya National Defence, was an operations officer at the rank of Lt Col during the mission in South Sudan. He previously served as the 2nd Infantry Division Commander and Chief of Staff, Land Forces. 

He once was also the Director of Combat Operations in the Defence ministry, Chief of Staff at Uganda Rapid Deployment Capability Centre, Deputy Commandant of Senior Command and Staff of College Kimaka, Chief of Staff African Union Support Mission in Somalia. 

Ogiki joined the army in 1995 after completing the basic military training course from the School of Infantry in Jinja. Two years later, he emerged as the best student in his class for his Officer Cadet Course in Monduli, Tanzania, in 1997.  An experienced Director of Operations with a demonstrated expertise in Intelligence analysis, operations management and planning, and international relations, Ogiki has a Master of Arts (MA) in Defence Studies from King’s College London.

Brig Charity Bainababo

A cousin of Gen Muhoozi, she is among the Kasenyi cohort that later graduated as cadets at the Gadaffi School of Infantry, Jinja, in 1999.

Brig Charity Bainababo. PHOTO/FILE/HANDOUT 

She previously served as the head of the Police Presidential Guard and she is currently the deputy SFC commander and in the past dovetailed this role as the commander of Special Forces Group One until she was early this year replaced by Colonel Asinguza Muserebende.

Col Allan Matsiko 

He is also among the young officers recruited by Gen Muhoozi, who trained at Kasenyi and graduated at the Gadaffi Infantry School as a cadet. He previously served as the head of counterintelligence in the Special Forces Group and later as a Director of Intelligence in SFC, and in January deployed to head the 303 UPDF brigade of the 1st Infantry Division based at Kakiri, Wakiso District.

Maj Gen James Birungi

From December 16, 2020, to January 25, 2022, Maj Gen James Birungi served on special assignment to, as the army put it, “monitor on behalf of the guarantors of the South Sudan peace process, the assembling, screening, demobilisation and integration of the armed forces of South Sudan.”

CMI boss Maj Gen James Birungi. PHOTO/FILE

From 2016 to 2019, he was chief of staff of UPDF Airforce. From June 2019 to December 16, 2020, he served as the commander of the Special Forces Command (SFC). 

Brig Dan Kakono

He is an-law to the Chief of Defence Forces and was part of a coterie of university graduates recruited by Gen Muhoozi in 1997. They were later trained at Kasenyi on the shores of Lake Victoria and later graduated as cadets at the Gadaffi School of Infantry, Jinja in 1999. Kakono previously served as the commanding officer of the tank battalion in the Special Forces Group, which later morphed into the elite SFC. He is currently the commander of the UPDF Artillery Division.

Brig Asaph Mweitesi Nyakikuru

He is among the few officers promoted on Friday. Currently the brigade commander of the SFC Commando Unit, he was among the key military strategists during the South Sudan rescue mission in 2013. He was by then a Major. He previously led an SFC commando team on a special assignment in Somalia between 2012 and 2013.

Col Nathan Nabimanya 

He is among the cohort that trained and graduated alongside Gen Muhoozi at Kasenyi and later completed their cadet course at the Gaddafi School of Infantry. 

Nabimanya has also served in the elite SFC as the commander of Special Forces Group Two until he was replaced by Col Wilson Bagonza in January 2024. 

Brig Felix Busizoori

He was among the 1997 Kasenyi recruits who graduated alongside Gen Muhoozi at the Gadaffi School of Infantry, Jinja, in 1999. He previously served as a platoon commander in the Presidential Guard Brigade and in the Special Forces Group as the officer-in-charge of the Special Coy.

He was later appointed as Director of Operations between 2013 and 2017, and Director of Personnel and Administration from 2017 to 2021 in SFC and later appointed to head SFC, before he was transferred to serve as the deputy commander in the 3rd Division.

Gen Muhoozi fact file