riceany father The relationship with his son is complicated. But when a family controls the state, personal matters become the state’s concern. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has long groomed his eldest son, General Muhozi Kenerubaba, promoting him into the army and condoning his tantrums. Now the son thought it was his turn. The result is military friction, chaos in the ruling party, and chaos in the country.
General Kainerugaba said he was “tired of waiting” to become president. He tweeted twice in recent weeks, then deleted his intention to run in the next election in 2026. By then, he pointedly noted, “the older generation will have been in power for 40 years”. Forty years, since his own father led the rebels into Kampala. Mr Museveni, 78, may indeed want his son to succeed him when he dies. But he’s not going anywhere.
So General Kainerugaba, 48, a self-proclaimed youth advocate, blew up on Twitter. In October, he joked about invading Kenya, prompting his father to fire him as commander of the Ugandan army. In December, he lashed out at the ruling national resistance movement (non-resource management), the political party founded and led by Mr Museveni.It’s “probably the most reactionary organization in the country,” he tweeted, “of course no On behalf of the people of Uganda”. He often tweeted while intoxicated, the people familiar with the matter said.
The son’s impatience echoes that of other middle-aged members of the ruling elite who find their way blocked by recalcitrant elders. They see the authority of the regime slipping and worry that they will have nothing left to inherit. The old guard is fighting back. Home Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire, 72, said General Kainerugaba’s clique were “children” who had been “grazed” and had fought alongside Mr Museveni in the jungle. “If they take on the challenges we face, will they try to bring this country together when they’re not prepared?”
Gen. Keneruba’s agitation also touches on one of the most sensitive issues in Ugandan politics: relations with neighboring Rwanda. He visited Kigali several times, became close to President Paul Kagame, whom he called his “uncle”, and declared sympathy for his “brother”. rice23, a Rwandan-backed rebel group in eastern Congo. That rattled other officials who were deeply distrustful of Rwanda’s intentions. But the eldest son called the Ugandan army “my army” and showed no inclination to be bound by its rules.
Tensions peaked in June last year when rice23 The Congolese border town of Bunagana was captured with the acquiescence of Ugandan soldiers who let rebel forces pass through Ugandan territory. Two weeks later, the deputy commander put the army on maximum alert. General Kainerugaba issued his own revocation order. The other generals reprimanded him for disobeying orders. One of his close associates, who only discussed the matter anonymously, claimed the first son disobeyed orders because he believed a coup was underway.
Anyone else behaving in this way is subject to court martial. But General Keneruba shows no signs of backing down. Those who blocked his father’s re-election were “gangsters, criminals and disasters,” he said. He is now holding rallies to promote “MK Movement”, named after himself. It represented little but his own ego.
This is a symptom of political decay. During his four decades in power, Mr Museveni’s circle of trust narrowed into concentric circles: first his own district, then his ethnic group, then his family. Debate over the country’s future is now reduced to the whispers of court politics. While he’s in good health, the president holds all the cards. It is unlikely that any competing factions in the military will take action against him. But this is no longer unthinkable.
So why didn’t Mr Museveni get his son to obey? Some say he sees chaos as a distraction from his never-ending reign. Others said he couldn’t bear to crush himself. It’s no big deal if he doesn’t take all the power into his own hands. ■