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Latest Promotion of Ugandan Leader’s Son Sparks Talk of Succession Conspiracy

FILE - Muhoozi Kainerugaba, a son of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, is pictured in Kampala July 12, 2010. Kainerugaba was officially decorated following his promotion to major general Wednesday in Kampala.

The head of the special command forces in Uganda — who is also a son of the president — was officially promoted to major general Wednesday, a move that has drawn condemnation on social media and has stirred allegations of a succession scheme.

Muhoozi Kainerugaba, was decorated following his promotion from brigadier during a ceremony at Ministry of Defense headquarters in Kampala. The special command forces are in charge of protecting the president, as well as the country’s oil and other institutions.

Kainerugaba, the first son of President Yoweri Museveni, was promoted alongside many other officers. But critics allege Kainerugaba's elevation is part of a plan by Museveni to install his son as his successor. Renegade Army General David Sejusa, a former coordinator for Uganda’s intelligence agencies at the president’s office, made the allegation to VOA.

Sejusa has demanded an investigation. He said the alleged plan involves a plot to assassinate senior administration officials opposed to Museveni’s succession arrangement.

Critics say the sudden rise of Kainerugaba to the position of Special Forces Group commander in the Uganda People’s Defense Forces also forms part of the alleged succession plan.

'Misplaced' criticism

The government denies any such plan exists. In an interview with VOA, Major Chris Magezi, spokesman for the special command forces, said the allegations were unfounded.

“That criticism is very misplaced," he said, "and it goes a long way to elaborate the nature of our local politics here. Just because Muhoozi Kainerugaba is the son of the president should not and must never take away his effort as an individual, his commitment to serve the armed forces. The armed forces, which is one of the options which he chose among many, I think is one of the toughest options he could have gone for. He has done a very brilliant job."

Magezi denied local media reports that the unit enjoys autonomy from the UPDF.

“This is some misleading information, which has been deliberately put out by some elements, but it’s not correct," he said, noting that the Special Forces Group is just one formation within the UPDF.

"There have been discussions of the army leadership to expand the special forces into a third service, which means the UPDF will have three services, which will include the air forces, the land forces and the special forces,” said Magezi. “The discussions are still ongoing.”