New role for Uganda's 'first son' after social media uproar

New role for Uganda's 'first son' after social media uproar

Kainerugaba has repeatedly denied claims he intends to succeed his 78-year-old father
Kainerugaba has repeatedly denied claims he intends to succeed his 78-year-old father. Photo: PETER BUSOMOKE / AFP/File
Source: AFP

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Uganda's defence ministry on Tuesday announced that the president's powerful son Muhoozi Kainerugaba would no longer lead the country's land forces, hours after a social media tirade by the outspoken scion caused uproar in Kenya.

The ministry said that President Yoweri Museveni had also promoted his 48-year-old son to the rank of general, but analysts said the elevation was likely a cosmetic move aimed at lowering his profile in the region.

"According to the powers entrusted to him as the president and commander in chief, President Yoweri Museveni has promoted Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba to the rank of general," the ministry said in a statement.

Although Kainerugaba has repeatedly denied claims he intends to succeed his 78-year-old father -- one of Africa's longest-serving leaders -- he has enjoyed a rapid rise through Uganda's army ranks and has often sparked controversy on social media.

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The move followed an endorsement on the weekend by some senior officials from the ruling National Resistance Movement who selected Museveni as their candidate in the country's 2026 presidential elections.

Soon after, Kainerugaba on Monday triggered a firestorm on Twitter with tweets discussing plans to invade Kenya.

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"It wouldn't take us, my army and me, 2 weeks to capture Nairobi," he said on Monday evening, before doing an about-turn.

"I would never beat up the Kenyan army because my father told me never to attempt it! So our people in Kenya should relax!"

The social media fracas forced Uganda's foreign ministry to wade into the issue and release a statement expressing its "commitment to good neighbourliness (and) peaceful coexistence" with Kenya.

'Lower his profile'

Kainerugaba is not shy about airing his views on foreign policy, offering up his opinions on subjects ranging from last year's coup in Guinea to the brutal war in northern Ethiopia.

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"One potential explanation of Muhoozi's Twitter storm over the last days is the endorsement of his father for the 2026 elections by top-NRM officials over the weekend," said Kristof Titeca, an expert on Central African affairs at the University of Antwerp.

"This could have triggered him, as he might also be eyeing the 2026 elections," Titeca told AFP.

"It can be questioned whether this promotion effectively entails more power. It could be perceived as a way to lower his profile, and reduce his real power."

A Ugandan political analyst who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity agreed, saying "the elevation to general was a cosmetic move (by Museveni) to avoid upsetting" his son.

Kainerugaba will continue to serve as a high-profile presidential adviser on special operations -- a role that extends into the political sphere.

Source: AFP

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