January 10, 2017 / 9:55 AM / 9 months ago

Ugandan leader makes son his adviser, critics see succession plan

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has appointed his son as his senior adviser, officials said on Tuesday, a move analysts said was part of a plan to groom him to take over the top job.

Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni waits to address the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The president’s son, Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, was moved from his position at the head of the army’s special forces, the military said, in what it called a normal change in command.

But political rivals have regularly accused the 72-year-old president of handing powerful positions to members of his family and adopting an increasingly autocratic style - charges his supporters dismiss.

His brother, Salim Saleh, is another presidential adviser and his wife, Janet Museveni, is minister of education.

“Muhoozi ... is going to play a significant role in a post-Museveni Uganda, there’s no doubt about it,” said political commentator and rights activist Nicholas Opiyo.

“He is just giving the boy a hand in experiencing how government works on the side of politics.”

Human rights lawyer and political commentator Andrew Karamagi described the appointment as a “real clear move to bring the man closer to succession”.

Kainerugaba has risen quickly through the ranks since he joined the army in 1998. He jumped two positions from 2nd Lieutenant to Major in 2001.

Military spokesman Paddy Ankunda said Kainerugaba had been appointed Senior Presidential Adviser for Special Operations. Asked whether it was a move to boost Kainerugaba’s political credentials, he told Reuters: “No, this is just a normal change in command.”

The Chief of Defence Forces, General Katumba Wamala, was named junior minister for works and transport and replaced by David Muhoozi in the change, Ankunda added.

Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, won a new five-year term in elections last year that the opposition said were rigged. He denies the charge.

Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and Andrew Heavens

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