KAMPALA — President Paul Kagame of Rwanda was no show at President Museveni’s son— Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s birthday party in Kampala.
Muhoozi who also commands the infantry, a military department of the UPDF had told his supporters that President Kagame had accepted to grace the first son’s 48th birthday celebrations in Uganda.
The organisers, the Patriots Club, a group associated with Muhoozi and the NRM party had claimed that President Museveni would also host a state banquet at State House Entebbe where President Paul Kagame was expected to be present. All these didn’t happen.
Thousands of people scramble to pay for the Kabaka birthday run and indeed it's often massive because of genuine love we have for the king. Then there's a cannibal Gen, Muhoozi, who rented support with all the state resources and he ended with 30 chamchas at the birthday run😂
— Kakwenza Rukirabashaija (@KakwenzaRukira) April 23, 2022
President Kagame and Muhoozi have fostered in a good friendship rapport with Muhoozi telling off President Paul Kagame’s adversaries that, “This is my uncle, Afande Paul Kagame. Those who fight him are fighting my family. They should all be careful.”
Muhoozi is credited with a significant role in mediating the Rwanda – Uganda standoff that saw Katuna/Gatuna border closed for close to 3 years.
Rwanda recently reopened the Gatuna border with Uganda, ending a three-year impasse on the Northern Corridor, one of East Africa’s key transport arteries that funnels goods from the Indian Ocean seaport of Mombasa to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rwanda abruptly closed the border in February 2019 after it accused Uganda of abducting its citizens and supporting rebels seeking to topple President Paul Kagame.
It took the intervention of Muhoozi who is considered among the front runners to succeed his father who has ruled Uganda long before the Berlin Wall fell.
Gatuna is one of the most important borders in East Africa as it connects Kenya’s Mombasa port to various cities in the region. On average, 2,518 trucks pass through the Gatuna border every month (84 trucks per day) into Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The East African Community has since upgraded it into a one-stop border post.
Its closure had choked off commerce in East Africa. Its re-opening is already sparking social and economic activities and also benefiting the informal cross-border traders.
Meanwhile both President Museveni and President Kagame snabbed the party which has been described by political commentators as a launch of a lacklustre political project for Muhoozi.
“What an insult to Ugandans, especially those who sacrificed their lives and property for the sake of restoring political sanity in our motherland. Why abuse our resources and intelligence, the military laws and code of conduct just to launch a lacklustre political project!, “the Lord Mayor of Kampala Erias Lukwago tweeted.
What an insult to Ugandans, especially those who sacrificed their lives and property for the sake of restoring political sanity in our motherland. Why abuse our resources and intelligence, the military laws and code of conduct just to launch a lacklustre political project!?..😒 pic.twitter.com/xfP4Rw6zg1
— Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago (@EriasLukwago_) April 24, 2022
Muhoozi named in ICC complaint over abductions and abuse
Lawyers acting for the victims of a wave of abductions and torture by security forces in Uganda receny named senior military commanders, including the president’s son, in a complaint to the international criminal court.
Prosecutors at the ICC are already reviewing an earlier submission from the opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, the former reggae singer known as Bobi Wine, describing widespread human rights abuses before contraversial presidential polls held in January.
President Museveni claimed victory in the vote, which was marred by allegations of fraud and the death of about 100 people during protests.
Most were shot by security forces.
It was difficult to identify the masked men or vehicles used in the abductions as well as torturers and guards in prison. However, lawyers, campaigners and victims blame the Special Forces Command, an elite military unit which Muhoozi commanded at the time, for many of the abuses
Muhoozi, a powerful son of the President is also named along with several senior officers.
“In Uganda today, the civil function is subverted in favour of the military that patrols all towns and cities,” the complaint alleges. “The military maintains power of arrest over civilians who are held on vague and indeterminate charges.”
The Special Forces Command was set up in 2011 and trained in 2014 and 2015 by US Navy Seals. Muhoozi was its commander at this time.
The training covered close-quarters combat, sniper operations and combat casualty care, among other topics.
The unit was then sent to Somalia as part of Amisom, a multinational force deployed by the African Union to fight Islamic militant insurgents.
Some special forces troops were brought back to Uganda before campaigning began last year for the January elections and, opposition officials say, deployed to intimidate Kyagulanyi’s supporters and activists before, during and after the poll.
After stepping down to serve as national security adviser in 2017, Muhoozi was reappointed commander of the SFC in December 2021, a move some critics said signalled a possible escalation of opposition harassment.
He is also a presidential adviser on special operations