President Yoweri Museveni’s victory in the January 14 presidential election means he will have led for a record 40 years when the next general election is held five years from now.
Being 76 now, it’s widely been speculated that Museveni could opt to retire at the expiry of the current term as he will be 81 in 2026. As such, a debate on who will be the man or woman to reign in Museveni’s place after four decades will certainly be raging on untill 2026.
However, Museveni’s entire reign has been dominated by perennial anxiety regarding who will succeed him when he chooses to retire. In the process, a number of big names have over the years popped up, with former Vice President Dr Samson Kiseka (RIP) the first probable contender for seat. Others that have been famously considered are former Vice Presidents Specioza Kazibwe and Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya, former Prime Ministers Apolo Nsibambi and John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga among others.
Following a long wait, many contenders have either died in waiting or fallen out with the regime after realizing that their dream of taking over from President Museveni is not attainable.
It’s Prof Bukenya and former Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi whose uncontrolled impatience made them taste the wrath of Museveni, with the former ending up in Luzira after openly declaring his determination to challenge his boss in 2005. He was dropped from cabinet, sought to run for the Presidency but barked out after being frustrated in the opposition which seemed not to trust him.
For Amama Mbabazi, arguably the most influential Man in the ruling National Resistance Movement then after Museveni himself, holding the two pwerful positions – both Prime Minister and Party Secretary General, his story changed with the announcement that he would contest for the Presidency in the general elections of 2016. He lost the positions of Prime Minister and Secretary General before being badly defeated in the polls.
The two have since reconciled with Museveni, with reports of Mbabazi’s eminent return to government gaining momentum in the previous couple of months.
In April last year, President Museveni maintained his stance on not having a succession plan in place, arguing that such was enshrined in the Constitution, which makes calls for him to name the person to take over from him irrelevant.
“The succession plan is in the constitution. You vote every after five years. There is no problem with the succession. If I say I am no longer running, the People of Uganda will vote,” he said during an interview.
Museveni also expressed confidence in his NRM party possessing a variety of able minded leaders for party members to choose from since it’s a party of unity unlike others like Democratic Party(DP) and Uganda People’s Congress( UPC).
With Kadaga – the most probable senior suiter for the Presidency unlikely to put herself in the race as she approaches her 70s, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba – the first son remains the only other candidate of choice to stand in the race after Museveni from within NRM.
The discussion on claims that President Museveni is grooming his son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba to take over from him after he has chosen to retire has dominated debate on the president’s succession plan since former spy chief Gen David Sejusa alleged that there was a plan to eliminate top military and government officials opposed to what he called the ‘Muhoozi Project.’
Previously, both Museveni and his son Muhoozi denied presence of such a project, although the first son recently said his enemies wanted to use the alleged plan to destroy him but his generation had turned it from a curse to a blessing.
Even then, the President maintains that although he had said he would not keep in power once he clocks 75 years of age, he has not yet fulfilled his agenda of unity, democracy, socio-economic transformation and Panafricanism. Until that plan has been achieved, the President seemed to say that he would not leave power unless he was voted out.
“Of course I am fit to run for the next election, what is the problem? Most importantly I am fit for my own life,” He explained.
This has prompted political analysts to opine that Museveni’s decision to desist from announcing a successor was a well calculated move to give his son Muhoozi enough time to get into the picture so as to be considered and believed in by Ugandans as the only man with capacity to lead the country his father will have managed for 40 years by the time he contests in 2026 when majority predict that Museveni will not be attempting re election.
Having been reappointed Commander of the elite Unit of the UPDF – The Special Forces, suggestions that Muhoozi could be edging closer to the Presidency has rightly gained a considerable traction. While he continues to serve as Advisor to the President, many have since opined that they youthful general is being exposed to the civilian aspects of managing society in time before his time comes, supposedly in 2026.
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