KAMPALA, UGANDA: President Museveni has initiated discussions with the National Resistance Army (NRA) historicals over the future of Uganda, his retirement from Presidency and the possibility of Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, his son as the successor.
According to a highly placed source close to the first family, the top-level meetings that started weeks ago are reportedly taking place at the president’s countryside farms in Kisozi and Rwakitura, in Western Uganda.
“Yes, it is true, Mzee (Museveni) is meeting the NRA veterans, one by one,” said a source, who is a close associate of the president and has seen the army chief meet his old comrades recently.
“He (Museveni) takes long walks on the farm with these NRA people and really listens to them,” the source emphasised, adding that some of the meetings last over six hours.
When pressed to explain the timing of these engagements, the source added, “He wants to hear their reasons for supporting or rejecting a Muhoozi presidency project.”
In some instances, the president promises his guests that he will “cross-check” their issues and revert.
Another well-informed source that claims to be very close to the meetings said, “Museveni wants to see how he can address issues raised by this group (NRA veterans).”
The president’s intervention came after it emerged that Muhoozi’s presidential ambitions were facing stiff internal resistance from NRA veterans.
Several high-ranking NRA military officials, wealthy businessmen, and top politicians have since said they would not support Muhoozi for president.
Others have reached the extent of raising funds to ‘demobilise’ Muhoozi’s grassroots base.
“The President knows everyone in the anti-Muhoozi group,” said a close associate of the head of state, adding, “He wants to see how he can work out their issues.”
Last year, Internal Affairs Minister Rtd Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, who was accompanied by retired NRA army generals, explicitly told elders, youth leaders, and influential people in Kiruhura district that the ruling party would not allow any other candidate apart from Museveni.
In a veiled attack on Muhoozi, Otafiire charged: “Tell those children of mine that the road they want to drive through at high speed has so many corners and they will knock. What has made this country reach this far is because we have been slow but sure.”
He added: “The problem is that when these children take over now with this excitement, they will roll us down, and the country might go back where we found it. Leading a country is not about making jokes because you have a big following on social media. I want to tell you people of Kiruhura that we still have Museveni; don’t be excited over new faces.”
On his part, the former Commander of Land Forces, Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has promised to lead the charge for political change in Uganda, saying he was “listening to the outcry of our people for change.”
Muhoozi, in a recent tweet, said he was “with the people!” adding, “Whatever NRM has become certainly does not represent the people of Uganda.”
Late last year, Gen. Salim Saleh tried to mediate the conflict between NRA veterans and Muhoozi, but the engagements did not bear fruit.
During one of the meetings with Saleh at Kapeeka, a friend of Gen. Muhoozi asked Otafiire why he was opposed to the Muhoozi presidency.
“No, no, it is you people and your media blowing things out of proportion,” said the humorous Otafiire.
Since then, NRA veterans have continued to fight Muhoozi on different fronts.
This group wants President Museveni to stay in office beyond the age of 80.
One of the tactics the NRA veterans are using is sending their elderly and respected colleagues to meet Museveni and persuade him to stay in office.
The second trick is ambushing the president with requests from mobilised NRM groups to accept endorsement as the sole NRM flag-bearer in the 2026 elections. Museveni has turned down these requests, saying it’s too early to think about the 2026 elections.
Museveni has kept his cards close to his chest, leaving many guessing about his next steps.
The President has also allowed Gen. Muhoozi to continue mobilising popular support in different parts of the country.
Muhoozi’s events have many elements of presidential-level security, such as special forces combat units.
This has enabled Muhoozi to raise a critical mass of supporters to form a base for his 2026 presidential bid.
In Kabale last week, thousands of Muhoozi’s supporters graced the ‘Rukundo Egumeho’ Thanksgiving ceremony, bringing business and traffic in the town to a standstill.
The prominent religious leaders from the Kigezi region, which has a population of about 2 million people, prayed for Muhoozi and hailed him for reviving relations between Rwanda and Uganda. They said the warm bilateral ties have led to a boost in business and enabled the cross-border movement of people who Rwanda and Uganda.
We, the so-called ‘Baana’ made peace with Rwanda, opened the borders, and defeated the ADF! I’m glad I belong to Uganda’s greatest generation,” said Muhoozi last year.
Muhoozi intends to ride on his diplomatic achievements and his strong stance against corruption to rally the youth, who form the better part of Uganda’s population (78% of Uganda’s population is under the age of 30), to support his presidency.
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