May 10, 2013 / 5:25 PM / 7 years ago

Ugandan general highlights succession debate in letter

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A general has called for an investigation into an alleged plot against those who say Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is grooming his son for power, according to a report that has opened a debate on an issue not usually aired in public.

Suspicions have deepened that Museveni, in office since 1986 and one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, is lining up his son, Kainerugaba Muhoozi, to succeed him.

Though popularly discussed in private, the issue is not normally publicized in the media. But the Daily Monitor newspaper this week published a letter by General David Sejusa that brought it into the open and drew angry official reactions.

Writing privately to the head of internal security, Sejusa called for an investigation into what he said were “claims” of a plot “to assassinate people who disagree with this so-called family project of holding onto power in perpetuity”.

The newspaper did not say how it had obtained the letter that it published on Tuesday.

Sejusa, who is coordinator of intelligence services, also referred to messages he said he had sent to the president “about the likely consequences of what the public has dubbed the Muhoozi issue that is becoming divisive and creating fertile ground for causing intrigue especially in the army”.

Sejusa, who comes from the same clan as Museveni, is one of Uganda’s most senior officers. He fought with the president in his five-year guerrilla struggle that brought Museveni to power and has long been seen as close to him.

The army said in a statement on Wednesday that Sejusa’s letter “champions the agenda of radical and anarchic political opposition” and said those who defied army codes by making public remarks would be “dealt with”, without giving details.

Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga told parliament on Thursday in remarks reported on television that Museveni was “taking appropriate measures to respond to the acts of indiscipline”, an apparent reference to Sejusa.

Sejusa could not immediately be reached for comment. One officer close to him told Reuters the general was abroad.

Critics of Museveni, 68, say Muhoozi, a brigadier general in charge of the army’s powerful elite unit, has been rushed through the ranks since he joined the military in 1998. In 2001, he jumped two positions from 2nd lieutenant to major.

David Mpanga, a lawyer and analyst, said the letter raised questions about loyalties in the ruling elite. “We need to ask ourselves how many other members of ruling core are getting disgruntled over these dynasty designs,” he said.

Although hailed for returning the rule of law and mending a broken economy, Museveni has faced mounting pressure and accusations he is becoming just another African strongman.

Opposition-led protests in 2011 sparked a security crackdown that killed at least nine people. Opponents say Museveni has failed to curb entrenched corruption, blamed for hurting public services and prompting donors to cut aid.

Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams

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