Uganda’s military has said that President Yoweri Museveni’s son, a lieutenant general, who is widely believed to be trying to succeed his long-ruling father, had not, in fact, resigned.
Muhoozi Kainerugaba announced on Twitter on March 8 that he had retired from the military after almost three decades in service. His father has been president of the eastern African country since 1986.
The tweet was widely interpreted as a sign that Kainerugaba, commander of the military’s land forces, was preparing to enter politics on a possible path to contest the presidency in the next election in 2026.
“The general has not retired from the army, he is still in active service,” Chris Magezi, spokesman for the land forces, told Reuters. “The army promotions and the commissions board, which is the military body mandated with handling retirement requests, has not received his application.”
According to Ugandan law, serving soldiers cannot participate in politics. Kainerugaba, 47, has himself not said whether he wants to run for president but his supporters have been conducting online and street campaigns for his candidature.
Museveni, 77, Africa’s fourth-longest serving president, has long been pilloried by the opposition and rights groups for using the military to subdue his opponents through intimidation, beatings or jail terms. Officials have denied the accusations.
He was declared the winner against his main opponent, pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine, after an election in January last year that was marked by violence.
Wine rejected the results as fraudulent and the United States and European Union said the polls were not free and fair.
Last December, a prominent Ugandan author was detained in December last year and subsequently charged with communications offences related to his tweets that criticised Kainerugaba and his father.
The author, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, has since fled to exile in Germany.