KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda has arrested an army captain who publicly questioned President Yoweri Museveni’s son over why some soldiers were being promoted faster than others, an issue some Ugandans say is linked to Museveni’s succession plans.
The career progress made by Muhoozi Kainerugaba, 39, now a brigadier in charge of the army’s elite unit, has been criticized as too rapid by the president’s critics who believe the 68-year-old Museveni is grooming his son to succeed him.
The Daily Monitor newspaper reported on Tuesday that Captain Moses Asiimwe, serving in Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping force, asked Kainerugaba about promotions during his visit to the troops last week.
Kainerugaba told Asiimwe that he was using the wrong forum to ask for a promotion for himself, the Monitor reported, adding that the soldier was taken back to Uganda and put in detention.
“(Asiimwe) made outrageous statements which questioned the normal institutional mechanisms of handling issues that soldiers or officers may have,” Army spokesman Paddy Ankuda told Reuters, confirming Asiimwe’s arrest.
“He knows how promotions are handled yet he was questioning how they’re done.” Ankuda added that no charges had yet been brought against Asiimwe.
Museveni was initially lauded by the West for espousing liberal economics and the rule of law, but critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian during his 27 years in power.
Political divisions within the military have become increasingly public over the last few months, something previously unheard of in Uganda, where security issues are closely guarded and the media are tightly scrutinized.
In May, a letter by a general called for investigations into an alleged plot to assassinate leaders opposed to purported plans by Museveni to have his son succeed him.
Soon after that, army chief Aronda Nyakairima, who was one of those mentioned as an assassination target, was removed from his post and appointed to a non-military position.
Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Robin Pomeroy