Tweets by Uganda president’s son spark ‘concern’ over succession query


Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the son of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, has attracted worldwide consideration with a spread of hanging tweets in current months – beginning with a veiled menace to invade Kenya in October and most just lately final week, when he supplied to deploy Ugandan troops to defend Moscow from “imperialists”. However the working theme in his tweets is the suggestion that he’ll quickly take over from his father. 

Muhoozi Kainerugaba – often known as “Muhoozi” – first attracted widespread worldwide consideration on Twitter final October when he spoke of the benefit with which he may invade neighbouring Kenya: “It would not take us, my military and me, 2 weeks to seize Nairobi,” he posted.  

President Yoweri Museveni, 78, responded by sacking Muhoozi from his position as commander of Uganda’s land forces. Museveni additionally mentioned his son “will go away Twitter”.  

However Muhoozi continues to be on the social media platform. After tweeting, “Respect this man!” alongside an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin in October, he tweeted on Thursday that, “Uganda shall ship troopers to defend Moscow if it is ever threatened by the Imperialists!” 

Douglas Yates, a professor of African politics on the American Graduate Faculty in Paris, likened Muhoozi’s tweets to these of former US president Donald Trump.

Characterising Muhoozi’s tweets as “irresponsible feedback” by the “inheritor to the palace”, Yates mentioned: “[M]any leaders suppose they will act like Trump and say something they need, [although] all of them will be taught, at some point, as will Trump, that phrases are issues, have penalties, and matter.”

‘Positioning himself as an outsider’

Certainly, analysts counsel Muhoozi’s most consequential tweets are these about home Ugandan politics. The identical day he tweeted about Russia, Muhoozi introduced the creation of TV and radio channels dedicated to his “MK Motion”, an organisation named after himself.   

This got here after a collection of tweets hinting that Muhoozi, a normal who was educated at Britain’s Royal Army Academy Sandhurst, ought to take over from his father sooner reasonably than later. Over the previous month, he twice tweeted – and deleted – his need to face on the subsequent presidential elections in 2026. Muhoozi mentioned that, by that time, “it is going to be 40 years of the outdated era in cost”, suggesting he represents the Ugandan youth.   

That was not Muhoozi’s solely tweet excoriating the Nationwide Resistance Motion (NRM), which Museveni based in 1986 and which has dominated Uganda underneath his management ever since. Muhoozi tweeted in December that the NRM is “in all probability probably the most reactionary organisation within the nation” – including that it “definitely does NOT signify the individuals of Uganda”.

Just like the populist Trump, Muhoozi “could also be making an attempt to distance himself from the ability in place and place himself as an outsider”, Yates mentioned. 

The political context of Muhoozi’s tweets is that the query of who will succeed his father is looming ever bigger in Ugandan politics, famous Kristof Titeca, a professor within the politics of improvement at Antwerp College specialising in Ugandan politics. 

“It’s not hypothetical, given Museveni’s superior age,” he mentioned. “There’s been a powerful focus of energy that finally zeroed in on the household. And it was clear that after 2021 Museveni was placing ahead his son to check the water – to see if he may show himself, a bit like Logan Roy in [the HBO TV series] ‘Succession’.”    

“However these tweets brought about increasingly concern inside Uganda’s political and navy institutions, among the many era of so-called ‘historicals’ that got here to energy together with Museveni. And it was clear that the query requested was, ‘Is he actually as much as the job?’” Titeca continued. “When he was taken out of the navy command construction, Muhoozi was sidelined by the remainder of the management in addition to by his father.”

Titeca mentioned Muhoozi’s tweets may merely be a tactic to place himself politically.    

“Why does Muhoozi proceed to tweet so provocatively? Some see it as simply his persona. Some see it as a part of a transparent political technique studying from Trump’s rise to energy.”

‘Museveni’s recognition has declined’

Quite a bit has modified for Museveni and the “historicals” within the 40 years since they took management of Uganda.

Museveni and his celebration have been lauded as forces of stability after he seized energy from dictator Milton Obote in 1986 within the end result of a five-year guerrilla battle. Certainly, Museveni retains sturdy help amongst many rural and older voters, notably those that recall optimistic modifications to the financial and safety conditions within the Nineteen Nineties and 2000s.

However Museveni confronted intensifying criticism after Uganda’s structure was modified in 2005 to abolish presidential time period limits – earlier than a further modification eliminated age limits in 2017.

In the meantime, in search of legitimacy among the many youth has turn out to be an more and more necessary activity in Ugandan politics, seeing as it’s the world’s second-youngest nation with 78 p.c of its inhabitants underneath 35. 

“The recognition of Museveni’s regime has declined over the previous 25 years or so, because the younger inhabitants has all the time identified a relative diploma of peace, so it doesn’t imply a lot to them that Museveni introduced peace,” Titeca mentioned. “They need jobs, prosperity, infrastructure.”

“The Museveni regime’s greatest worry is an ‘Arab Spring‘ situation [taking] place among the many youth,” Titeca continued. “A part of the best way the regime has constructed legitimacy is thru corruption and patronage – however that undermines financial development and public providers, and offering them is essential to profitable legitimacy among the many youth. So coercion has turn out to be essential for the regime.”

Rise of Bobi Wine

The president’s fundamental challenger within the 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 elections was Kizza Bisegye, who was Museveni’s private physician throughout the guerrilla battle then a senior minister in his authorities. After a falling out along with his ex-boss, Bisegye grew to become chief of the longstanding opposition celebration the Discussion board for Democratic Change. The 2006 elections went to courtroom, the place a judicial evaluate discovered proof of in depth vote-rigging to learn Museveni. Bisegye was charged with treason in 2016 and has repeatedly been arrested and attacked. He didn’t stand within the January 2021 presidential elections.

By the point of that vote – which analysts say was marred by repression – singer Bobi Wine had supplanted Bisegye as Uganda’s fundamental opposition chief.

Wine rose to the fore through the use of Afrobeat music to attraction to the nation’s youthful voters. He calls his polemical ragga (a subgenre of reggae) songs “edutainment” – schooling by way of leisure – and the opening strains of his 2016 hit Situka (that means “Stand up” within the Luganda language) exemplify this model: “When leaders turn out to be misleaders, and mentors turn out to be tormentors, when freedom of expression turns into a goal of suppression, opposition turns into our place.”     

“Bobi Wine is categorically totally different from Kizza Bisegye as a menace to the Ugandan institution; Bisegye represents the old fashioned of politics to a lot of Uganda’s large inhabitants of younger individuals,” mentioned Ben Shepherd, a former adviser on Africa’s Nice Lakes area on the British Overseas Workplace, simply earlier than the 2021 presidential elections.

After Museveni was introduced the winner of the 2021 polls, Wine accused the president of vote-rigging, saying it was “probably the most fraudulent election within the historical past of Uganda”. A day after the polls, Wine was positioned underneath home arrest for 10 days. He filed an election problem in courtroom after his launch – solely to retract it, saying the Supreme Court docket judges have been biased in Museveni’s favour.

>> Learn extra: As Bobi Wine challenges President Museveni, run-up to Ugandan vote marred by violence, repression

Muhoozi, Wine ‘each declare to signify youth’

These experiences didn’t soften Wine’s fierce opposition to Museveni. He informed FRANCE 24 in September 2021 that it’s “only a matter of time” earlier than the Ugandan president “results in the dustbin of historical past”, whereas calling on the Ugandan individuals to “liberate” themselves from his “dictatorship”.

As for the probability of Wine taking energy, Titeca mentioned he’s a “image of Uganda’s youth” and the “first actual outsider to turn out to be the principle opposition politician”, notably since he comes from the centre of Uganda – particularly the Buganda area – as an alternative of the west, which has lengthy dominated the nation’s politics. 

“However coming from the centre of Uganda is a curse in addition to a blessing, as a result of he has not been in a position to actually translate his recognition exterior of the area,” Titeca noticed.

Maybe unsurprisingly, Wine and Muhoozi have expressed fierce antagonism in the direction of one another – with Wine calling Muhoozi the “brutal son” of an “conceited dictator” on Twitter, to which Muhoozi responded by calling Wine a “buffoon”.

“There’s a sure similarity between the 2,” Titeca famous. “Each declare to signify the youth as outsiders – though it’s from two completely totally different positions: one comes from the ghetto, the opposite comes from the statehouse.”

Titeca mentioned it’s debatable how well-liked Muhoozi may turn out to be, or how nicely his social media technique is working. “Muhoozi’s tweets are adopted with plenty of amusement in Uganda – and it’s clear he needs to play the identical playing cards as Trump, speaking to individuals’s intestine emotions. However there are questions as to how significantly that may very well be taken and what it actually means by way of political capital.” 



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