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Uganda Denies President Museveni’s ‘Succession’ Plan

  • Peter Clottey

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, November 30, 2012.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, November 30, 2012.

A Ugandan government spokesman has denied reports that President Yoweri Museveni plans to step down and hand over power to his son, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

“The allegation or insinuation that Museveni is grooming his son is completely untrue,” said government spokesman Fred Opolot. “President Museveni has been at the fore of ensuring democratic progress of the country [and] it is diversionary to suggest that all of a sudden he is grooming his son.”

Opolot also rejected criticism that Mr. Museveni refuses to allow his senior ministers to contribute to discussions during cabinet meetings.

He says Museveni often delegates duties to the vice president or the prime minister to chair cabinet meetings due to his busy schedule.

The meetings, Opolot says are regularly held on Wednesdays.

“I would say that 90 percent of the cabinet meetings are either chaired by the prime minister or the vice president. So that is a completely frivolous allegation and President Museveni, anyone who interacts with him will know, that he is someone who listens,” said Opolot. “His concern is how the general public feels about his government and about the delivery of services to the communities.”

Opolot’s comments came after critics said the sudden rise of Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the first son of the president, to the position of the Special Forces Group commander in the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF) forms part of Museveni’s succession plan.

The Special Forces group is in charge of protecting the president as well as the country’s oil installations and other institutions.

Some officials say it usually takes over two decades to be promoted to the rank that Muhoozi currently occupies.

But, Opolot denied Muhoozi has been receiving preferential treatment within the UPDF since his father is the commander in chief of the army.

“Ugandans are not focused on this -- it is just the countable opposition activists who are raising these issues,” said Opolot. “Muhoozi has propelled himself [and] he has shown excellence in the army hierarchy. He has been promoted as have all other army officers have been promoted. If his son has the ambition to excel, surely it is no reason to castigate the president to promote his son.”

Opolot also denied the government silences dissent by often using state security agencies to intimidate and harass opponents.

He says the allegations are being made by opposition groups to create chaos and undermine the country’s democracy.