Special Reports

SPECIAL REPORT: How Army Is Shaping M7’s Succession Battle

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page http://ccrail.com/wp-includes/version.php "sans-serif"; font-size: small;”>The ball was set rolling during Museveni’s recent Cabinet reshuffle in which he named then Security Minister Amama Mbabazi as new Prime Minister.

Museveni boldly made the historic announcement during the NRM caucus meeting at State House, Entebbe, sending shockwaves across the conference room where MPs had gathered.

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Most NRM leaders, and some members especially in the army hierarchy, did not take this lightly.

On that very day, MP firebrand Mohammed Nsereko accused Museveni of making a mistake by installing Mbabazi, whom he described as a corruption-tainted man.

Museveni made it worse when he hyped Mbabazi as hardworking, loyal and trustworthy.

While most NRM leaders dislike Mbabazi’s style of management, informed officials say the PM is one of the most gifted, flexible and fore-sighted managers government has ever seen.

Museveni further said Mbabazi would name Cabinet hours later. The Cabinet and State Ministers were appointed by Mbabazi. This development marked the beginning of a bitter succession war.

MBABAZI TO SUCCEED M7

It’s no secret in NRM circles Museveni wants Mbabazi to succeed him. Informed sources say Museveni wants to install Mbabazi to avoid being back-stabbed by any other President as he grazes his cattle at Rwakitura. However, an MP from western Uganda says Museveni is too clever to expose his successor before power-hungry lions.

Other sources we talked to say Museveni communicates better with actions than words and rarely reveals his political plans to the public.

This has come with a cost.

Senior Presidential Advisor Gen. Elly Tumwiine and Col. Fred Mwesigye have loudly spoken out on the urgent need for Mbabazi to step down pending investigations into reports that he accepted bribes from oil company Eni.

There is information showing the army leadership has ill-feelings towards Mbabazi because he never participated in actual fighting during the guerrilla war that ushered NRM into power.

Needless to say, this is no major threat to Mbabazi as Museveni would quickly bring them to order.

MBABAZI CAPABLE?

Contrary to widely-held views Mbabazi is not very popular for presidency, others factors can help him climb the political ladder. These include Museveni openly canvassing support for him, availability of local and foreign resources for campaigns and general popularity enjoyed by NRM in rural areas.

Informed officials in NRM say Mbabazi is perceived by rural dwellers as Museveni’s successor. “Mbabazi might be unpopular among intellectuals in Kampala alone,” said a top NRM official. He proved this during the NRM delegates’ conference at Namboole when he floored Gen. Otafiire for the NRM Secretary General slot.

ARMY FACTOR

Army officers who would not love to see (have no option) Mbabazi enter State House include Gen. Kahinda Otafiire (Minister Constitutional Affairs), Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi, Brig. Henry Tumukunde, Gen. David Tinyefuza, Gen. Katumba Wamala, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura and Col. Pecos Kutesa. The bush war fighters would want to see an army officer take over power especially Gen. Salim Saleh.

Sources say some generals have been clandestinely lobbying for Mbabazi’s removal as Premier over the oil scandal by using Independent-minded NRM MPs. City tycoon Hassan Bassajabalaba is reported to have been oiling the anti-Mbabazi operation.

Information shows the intensification of the battle against Mbabazi is aimed at overpowering and subsequently overthrowing as Premier before he ascends to the highest office in the land.

And one of the reasons why Mbabazi is hesitant to step aside for his alleged involvement in oil bribery is that he could lose the Secretary General post as well. This implies he would remain a mere MP for Kinkizi.

The liberal army officers do not want Mbabazi to rule them. A source says the likes of Otafiire and Muhwezi, who have been named in corruption scandals, are uncomfortable being under Mbabazi, fearing the cases would miraculously resurrect!

Nearly all army generals are likely to retire before 2015.

They include Aronda, Moses Ali, Ivan Koreta, Jim Oweyesigire (airforce) and Katumba Wamala (Land Forces) among others.

In their retirement, generals want a peaceful and nostalgic life which Mbabazi is yet to guarantee. To most of them, this can happen with Saleh in power or Mbabazi without haunting them.

MUHOOZI ALMOST READY

Information from State House indicates that after Mbabazi has been elected President, Col. Keinerugaba Muhoozi will serve as deputy army commander.

“In the meantime, Muhoozi is very junior for the position of army commander. He will deputise Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura who will at the time army boss,” a source said.

The previous 8 years have witnessed a strategic overhaul of the army and creation of loyal units.

Most young but highly educated army officers under Muhoozi are very loyal and do not nurture any ill-feelings towards Mbabazi.

The elite Special Forces Group has several brigades including artillery and mechanised.

Under Muhoozi, Special Forces control Entebbe airbase. It also boasts of paratroopers and commando units, implying they can quickly repulse any internal rebellion.

This means Mbabazi will be in full control of the country with Muhoozi as his army chief and Museveni as an advisor enjoying milk at Rwakitura. Already, Museveni has constructed a mansion in Mpigi where he will stay with Janet starting 2016.

Janet says she ends her political career in 2016 and will resort to taking care of her grand daughters and sons.

When Mbabazi exits office, accordingly, Muhoozi will be in his early fifties, ready to take on the mantle of Presidency.

You will recall he said he can never rule himself out of the succession queue after Capt. Mike Mukula grumbled that Muhoozi was being groomed for President.

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