By EMMANUEL GYEZAHO,
The meteoric rise of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, through the military ranks following his Monday promotion to the rank of Brigadier has been one of the fastest in the country's army, an analysis by this publication shows.
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President Museveni appointed Brig Muhoozi overall commander of the country's special forces, which will now see him protect his father, and also the country's new oil wells.
An assessment of a list of at least 25 senior ranking army officers who have attained the rank over the years shows that it takes an individual an average of more than two decades to become a Brigadier.
Brig Muhoozi has achieved such seniority in under 15 years since formally joining the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF), stoking speculation that he is being groomed to succeed his father, in power for 26 years.
The army Tuesday defended Brig Muhoozi’s spectacular rise through its ranks, saying that the First Son has earned each and every rank bestowed upon him.
"Brig. Muhoozi’s promotion and progress has been normal. He is a disciplined, dedicated and highly trained officer who has been serving with us for a long time," acting army spokesperson Capt Chris Magezi said.
Critics have been quick to suggest that Brig Muhoozi is a beneficiary of his blood relations with his father, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s Armed Forces.
When asked why it had taken other officers over 20 years on average to become Brigadier, Capt Magezi said it is difficult for officers to have similar career paths given their varying points of entry into the force.
“Yes there are some who have been in the army longer and it is true that some have taken longer to become officers,” he said. "It is because there are those who join the army right away as commissioned officers and those who join as non-commissioned officers. Of course, they cannot take the same path and comparing them would be wrong."
Uganda's Shadow defence minister and legislator Hassan Fungaroo said: "The promotion is irregular, starting right from his (Muhoozi’s) selection for studies and training in the military. Ask yourself, why do they select Muhoozi for all these trainings and studies and not [other people]?”
Defended his advance
Some are suggesting that President Museveni could be grooming his son to run the country in future, but Brig Muhoozi has repeatedly defended his rapid advance as being on merit.
There is also no published proof that his career blitz was in preparation for political office.
Legislator Mike Mukula once reportedly told American officials in Uganda, in comments captured in leaked diplomatic cables published on the whistleblower website, Wikileaks, that President Museveni was "increasingly patterning himself after [Zimbabwean President] Robert Mugabe and wants to position his son, then Lt Col Muhoozi Kainerugaba, as his eventual successor.”
Contacted, Mr Mukula, who is the ruling party’s vice chairman for eastern Uganda, said: “For me, no comment.”
Source: The East African