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Uganda Opposition Leader Blames President Museveni for Tension

  • Peter Clottey

Ugandan opposition party leader Kizza Besigye shakes hands with supporters before being arrested on September 4, 2012 in Kampala, Uganda.

Ugandan opposition party leader Kizza Besigye shakes hands with supporters before being arrested on September 4, 2012 in Kampala, Uganda.

A Ugandan opposition leader says frustration within the rank and file of the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) is creating tension in the country.

“There is a clear intension of monopolizing the control of the military, which is the source of power, and that is what is clearly being described as the construction of a presidential monarchy,” said Dr. Kizza Besigye, the former leader of the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

Besigye says President Yoweri Museveni is to blame for the rising tension in the country, which he contends could create instability and chaos.

“There is palpable frustration in all corners of the ruling establishment. The whole idea that Museveni is constructing a presidential monarchy I think is grossly unacceptable to a wide range of actors, especially those who were his comrades in the struggle for what was hoped to be democracy,” said Dr. Besigye.

His comments were made after security officials raided the office of the coordinator of intelligence agencies, General David Sejusa. The general had petitioned the government to investigate rumors of a plot to assassinate senior administration officials opposed to Mr. Museveni’s succession plan.

Uganda media quotes UPDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Ankunda as saying “we are investigating the issues that he raised in his letter ... We needed useful information from his office. The team got documents and [a] computer from his office.”

President Museveni’s alleged plan is to step down and hand power to his son, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

Critics say the sudden rise of Muhoozi, the first son of the president, to the position of the Special Forces Group commander in the UPDF forms part of the Museveni succession plan.

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

“Now they see that the military is essentially put under his son, Mr. Muhoozi, who was actually recruited into the military illegally because there is a very well established procedure of how one gets a commission to the UPDF,” continued Besigye, “even before he was recruited into the force he, himself, recruited other young people into the military. Those people [he] recruited plus himself are now in charge of the military.”

The government denies the allegation.

“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.”