The World Today for April 18, 2023


Fathers and Sons


Muhoozi Kainerugaba is the son of the long-serving president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, a 78-year-old who has been in office since 1986. Muhoozi, as he is known, only months ago ran afoul of his father when he tweeted flip references to invading neighboring Kenya. “It wouldn’t take us, my army and me, 2 weeks to capture Nairobi,” he wrote.

Museveni responded by firing his son as commander of the army and pledging he would stay off Twitter. “I ask our Kenyan brothers and sisters to forgive us for tweets sent by General Muhoozi, former Commander of Land Forces here, regarding the election matters in that great country,” Museveni said in a statement quoted in CNN.

But Muhoozi was still on the social media platform, reported Agence France-Press, only recently offering Ugandan troops to Russian President Vladimir Putin to fight the “imperialist” West.

The tweet that generated the most buzz involved the topic that is verboten in autocracies: Who will replace the aging autocrat. Muhoozi announced on the platform in March that he would run for the presidency in 2026, wrote Al Jazeera. The declaration came as no surprise to critics of Museveni who claimed that the president has always been grooming his son to become head of state when he steps down.

Museveni has not announced his intention to step aside, however, noted the Economist. The potential of two rival factions – Museveni versus Muhoozi – has caused chaos in the Ugandan military, government, and economy. “A power struggle is unfolding in the back rooms of Uganda’s State House,” wrote the Africa Report, noting that grandees within Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement might help smooth over a transition.

The president marched into the capital of Kampala almost 40 years ago at the head of a rebel force that seized power. He has since cracked down on political and social dissidents to retain office. He infamously has carried out some of the world’s most egregious campaigns against LGBTQ communities, for example. He recently signed a law imposing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” the Guardian reported.

Museveni has no succession plan, explained World Politics Review. Many Ugandans don’t know any other leaders, he’s governed them for their entire lives. The potential for an explosion of pent-up forces when he leaves office is great, especially if nobody has a plan to keep government services operating.

The role of Ugandans living in the country’s growing cities will especially help determine who can hold the reins of power, Foreign Policy magazine wrote, noting that it was typically rural insurrections that brought tyrants to power decades ago, as in the case of Museveni.

Otherwise, Muhoozi might have made himself the only other option.

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