Uganda: The Dynasty Under Duress

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June 4, 2013: The coup in the Central African Republic (CAR) earlier this year definitely stalled the coalition effort to defeat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and end the career of LRA senior commander Joseph Kony. The government still says that its anti-LRA operations are continuing. It is very likely that intelligence gathering does continue. However, there have been no reports of Ugandan hunter patrols conducting sustained operations in southeastern CAR. That jibes with a UN statement made in mid-May that said anti-LRA operations inside the CAR were at a near standstill. The African Union (AU) and the nations involved in the regional anti-LRA effort are urging the new CAR leadership to let the coalition return to full-scale operations. Meanwhile, the LRA and Kony appear to be in Congo, supporting themselves by poaching elephants and selling the ivory to the growing number of traders who will transport the illicit ivory to booming markets in China.

June 3, 2013: President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, faces political challenges on many fronts. The turmoil over General David Sejusa’s May 7th letter continues. Sejusa’s opposition to Museveni’s alleged plan to have his son succeed him likely indicates that other several senior military leaders also oppose the plan. Meanwhile, the political fight over how to handle the country’s oil boom is intensifying. That fight has several components: oil contracts, distribution of oil revenue, and worries about corruption. Opposition political leaders are incensed that Museveni has said he will make the final decision on all oil and energy contracts. Their criticism likely reflects concern in Uganda’s business community, the business owners are just reluctant to say it. Museveni asserts that he is exercising his authority as chief executive to insure the oil exploration, drilling, and service contracts serve Uganda’s national interests. Museveni says he wants to use the oil revenue to improve Uganda’s physical infrastructure, primarily transportation links (roads). New hospitals and clinics are also in the mix. According to the president’s opponents, the roads and hospitals are feel good talk to camouflage theft. The opposition points to unresolved bribery allegations made against three government officials. An investigation has gone on for almost two years and there is no indication that a report will be issued on the investigation. Opposition politicians also complain that the contracting process is not open to parliamentary scrutiny and they accuse Museveni of favoring his political allies in contracting decisions. The opposition favors an open bidding process. While Museveni’s political opponents have focused on the corruption and cronyism allegations, oil industry analysts see another problem. Musveni has not only centralized the contracting process, he has personalized it. Which raises an important question: what happens when Museveni is no longer president? Companies signing long-term contracts need to take this into account. (Austin Bay)

June 2, 2013: The independent newspaper the government shutdown on May 20, the Daily Monitor, published a scathing editorial which addressed media freedom in Uganda. The editorial comes after reports that the newspaper’s owners had told President Yoweri Musveni that the newspaper would now publish only stories which are “properly sourced.” The newspaper is sending a major political signal that it is not going to back down. The hard-hitting newspaper editorial described Museveni and his government as paranoid about media criticism. The newspaper said that Museveni himself was ambivalent about freedom of speech, which was slightly better than his immediate predecessors, Idi Amin and Milton Obote. The editorial said they were completely hostile to free media. Amin was quick to murder reporters, editors, and, for that matter, anyone who criticized him. However, the editorial argued that Museveni’s abuse of police power and his penchant for shutting down critical media serves the same functional goal as the policies of Amin and Obote – he intends to silence his opponents. The real kicker came when the editorial said all of Uganda’s post-independence leaders had learned this trick from the old British colonial government.

May 30, 2013: The government has let the Daily Monitor newspaper resume publication. Police raided and shutdown the paper on May 20. Officials said that on May 26 President Yoweri Musveni met with the owners of the National Media Group, which owns the Daily Monitor newspaper. Museveni contends that the letter makes false allegations. The media group indicated that it had agreed to publish only properly sourced stories. On May 7 the Daily Monitor published quotes from a letter attributed to General David Sejusa. The letter alleged that Museveni intended to cede power to his son and that individuals who opposed the president’s plan were targeted for assassination. Media call the alleged plan Project Muhoozi. Museveni’s son is named Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

May 29, 2013: Security officials and former rebels are commending the parliament’s decision to revive the LRA Amnesty Act through 2015. They believe that reinstating the act will spur more LRA defections. The amnesty program expired in May 2012. At the time the government argued that the program had run its course and was no longer needed. Several senior security officers thought otherwise, as did a number of human rights groups. Former LRA rebels said that the Amnesty Act played a role in their decision to quit fighting. The act gave them legal protections. The Amnesty Act was passed in January 2000. Between January 2000 and May 2012, 26,383 former rebels accepted amnesty and surrendered. Of that total 12,971 were LRA fighters. 2,040 were Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels. The rest came from 27 other rebel groups.

May 28, 2013: Police in Kamapala used tear gas to break up a demonstration by journalists and writers who were protesting the government closure of the Daily Monitor newspaper. Approximately 100 journalists and writers participated in the demonstration. The government said the shutdown will continue until the newspaper staff cooperates with police. The police want to know how the newspaper obtained the letter General David Sejusa wrote to the Internal Security Organization (ISO). The letter asks the ISO to investigate reports and rumors that plotters in the government intend to assassinate security officials who might oppose President Yoweri Musveni’s alleged plan to make his son president in 2016.

May 24, 2013: President Yoweri Museveni fired General Aronda Nyakairima as head of the military. Nyakairima became the senior military commander in 2003. Museveni made Nyakairima minister of internal affairs, which is a civilian position. This means Nyakairima is no longer in the military chain of command. Opposition political activists claim Nyakarima’s transfer is further evidence that Museveni is already in the process of removing senior military leaders who might oppose Museveni’s alleged succession plan. The controversy over General David Sejusa’s letter regarding the rumors that Museveni intends to cede power to his son continues, as does the government’s attempt to quell media discussion of the letter. Since the May 20 raid on the Daily Monitor newspaper, the government has shutdown three more media organizations.

May 23, 2013: The government now refers to General David Sejusa as a renegade. Before his letter regarding assassination rumors of Museveni critics was published, Sejusa was Coordinator of Intelligence Services (military intelligence services). Sejusa is also a military representative in parliament. Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s office has received a letter from General Sejusa. Before that Sejusa took three weeks leave to travel to Europe and his leave ended May 19. Sejusa has asked the Speaker to extend his leave for three months. Apparently he does not want to add AWOL charges to the list of criminal charges he will likely face. The letter says he needs the extension because he has unfinished business in Great Britain and it is believed he might seek exile in Britain. Sejusa is believed to have said he will return to Uganda if the military is allowed to try him in what Sejusa called a fully-constituted military tribunal.  He believes he will face charges of subversion, conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, and a crime the government calls spreading harmful propaganda. Because he is a four-star general a fully-constituted tribunal would need three four-star generals to try him.

May 22, 2013: According to UN estimates, the LRA has killed more than 100,000 people in central Africa since 1987. During that time frame the LRA abducted between 60,000 and 100,000 children. LRA depredations displaced an estimated 2.5 million people.

May 21, 2013: Armed groups operating in central Africa have managed to acquire more powerful weapons which they are using to kill elephants for their ivory. The LRA has joined in and has been seen selling poached ivory to smugglers. Ivory sales appear to be a key source of LRA funds right now.

May 20, 2013: Fifty plainclothes police raided and shutdown a major Ugandan newspaper, the Daily Monitor. The police raiders disabled the newspaper printing press and said they were engaged in searching for the source of a leak which affected national security. But the real reason the police raided the paper is political. Earlier this month the Daily Monitor published a letter which accused President Yoweri Museveni of plotting against individuals who believe Museveni intends to put his son, Brigadier General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, in power in 2016.  Museveni’s political opponents and some media call this Project Muhoozi (or The Muhoozi Project). Muhoozi currently commands Special Forces Command. The elite Presidential Guard Brigade is assigned to Muhoozi’s command. He was a second lieutenant in 2000, so his rise through the ranks has been stunningly rapid.  Muhoozi has also surrounded himself with several young officers who are personally loyal to him. The letter basically asked for an investigation into rumors and reports that Museveni intended to assassinate individuals in security agencies who might oppose his plan to cede power to his son. The police broke the paper’s printing press and knocked its website off the internet. The police raid followed a warning by the Ugandan government media regulator that excessive coverage of the letter would result in penalties. The letter was allegedly written by former General David Sejusa. Sejusa is popularly known by the name Tinyefuza. He is regarded by many as a revolutionary hero and was one of Museveni’s deputy commanders in the civil war in the 1980s.  Sejusa wrote the letter to Uganda’s Internal Security Organization (ISO). The ISO claims it never received the letter and that the Daily Monitor is part of a political plot. The Daily Monitor first published quotes from the letter on May 7. The letter was published at a time when Ugandan media were reporting that very deep political divisions are appearing between Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) and the Ugandan Army. Sejusa is traveling in western Europe. He faces charges of violating the military’s code of conduct. Sejusa was Coordinator of Intelligence Services. Ugandan political analysts are arguing about Sejusa’s objective. He remains popular with many in the military. One theory is that Sejusa is positioning himself as a political alternative to Museveni and his son. (Austin Bay)

May 12, 2013: Ugandan media reported that President Yoweri Museveni is outraged over allegations that he intends to pass power on to his son. The government warned that newspapers and radio stations reporting on the story could face severe penalties. Nevertheless, everyone is talking about the subject. On May 7, one of Uganda’s leading newspapers, the Daily Monitor, quoted part of a letter attributed to General David Sejusa which asked for an investigation into rumors that individuals opposed to Museveni’s plan to pass power on to his son are being targeted for assassination. Commentators indicated that the targeted individuals are senior security officials in Uganda. The letter was dated April 29, 2013. Ugandan media claim that Museveni believes Sejusa is conspiring with opposition leader Kizza Besigye to split the Ugandan Army into factions. Sejusa wrote another controversial letter in October 2012, one that many people read as a warning that the military could launch a coup. The 2012 letter, which appeared in the Daily Monitor, said that Uganda faced “creeping lawlessness, impunity, primitive arrogance, and insensitive behavior” and innocent people were being abused. There were rumors at the time that Sejusa would be court martialed for writing the letter.

May 7, 2013: Despite denials by senior government officials that the Seleka rebel takeover of the CAR government has not deterred Ugandan Army efforts to defeat the LRA, reports from the CAR indicate that it has affected combat operations. Ugandan Army troops in the CAR have reportedly withdrawn to their base camps. Security officials are worried that the suspension of hunter patrol operations will give the LRA a respite – a chance to rest and regroup.

 

 

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