Uganda President Museveni appoints his son Muhoozi as Chief of Defence Forces

Uganda First Son Muhoozi Kainerugaba. He has been appointed Chief of Defence Forces by his father President Yoweri Museveni. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has appointed his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba as the new Chief of Defence Forces (CDF).

Kainerugaba, 48, a general in the military, is widely seen as his father's successor in waiting and once stirred controversy by threatening to invade neighbouring Kenya. 

He replaces Gen Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, who has been removed and appointed Minister of State for Trade in the new cabinet reshuffle announced Thursday evening. 

In 2022, Museveni removed his son as commander of Uganda's land forces after he made threats to invade neighbouring Kenya in posts on social media platform X.

In the posts, Kainerugaba also expressed support for Russia's President Vladimir Putin saying: "The majority of mankind (that are non-white) support Russia's stand in Ukraine."

Kainerugaba has long been viewed as being prepared to take over the presidency from his father, 79, who has ruled Uganda for nearly 40 years.

Although Ugandan laws bar serving military officers from involvement in politics, Kainerugaba frequently trades barbs with opposition politicians and has also formed a pressure group that has been mobilising political support for him, drawing criticism from his critics and the opposition.

Uganda is due to hold its next presidential election in early 2026 and Museveni is widely expected to seek re-election.

Kainerugaba has been serving as his father's senior presidential advisor in charge of special operations.

The appointment comes days after President Museveni on February 17 presented the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Establishment 2021, an instrument of delegated Command, Control, and Administration, to then CDF Gen Mbadi, to command all elements of the army.

"By virtue of the powers enshrined under Article 98(1) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, and Section 8(1) and (2)(a) of the UPDF Act, 2005, yesterday, on February 17, 2024, at the Defence Council meeting, I presented the UPDF Establishment 2021, an instrument of delegated Command, Control, and Administration, to General Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, the Chief of Defence Forces of the UPDF, to command all elements of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces," Museveni said in a February 18 statement. 

In the new appointments announced Thursday evening, Gen Museveni named Lt Gen Samuel Okiding as the deputy CDF. He replaces Gen Peter Elwelu whom the President named as one of his senior advisors.

Maj Gen Jackson Bakasumba replaces Maj Gen Leopold Eric Kyanda as the new Joint Chief of Staff. Maj Gen Kyanda has been appointed Defence attaché while the commander of the Special Forces Command (SFC), Brig Gen David Mugisha has been promoted to Major General, according to Defence spokesperson, Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye.

Commando Brigade commander, Asaph Nyakyikuru has been promoted from Colonel to the rank of Brigadier General.

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