President Yoweri Museveni has apologized to Kenya, over his son’s tweets, which among other things threatened to capture Nairobi in under two weeks.
In a statement that was also shared on Twitter, President Museveni asked: “Kenyan brothers and sisters to forgive us for tweets sent out by the Commander of land forces.”
President Museveni added that his son Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who until October 4 was Commander of Uganda’s land forces, had no right to comment on the affairs of other countries.
“It is not correct for public officers, be they civilian or military, to comment or interfere in anyway, in the internal affairs of brother countries,” said President Museveni in a statement. In the statement, President Museveni also attempted to explain the promotion of his son from Lieutenant General to General, when the appropriate reaction should have been punishment.
“This is one aspect where he has acted negatively,” said the President. According to President Museveni, General Kainerugaba in most other instances acts positively, which is why he was rewarded with a promotion, despite the insult to Kenya. The President then apologized to Ugandans who might have been offended by his son’s comments.
President Museveni added that he had personally conveyed this apology to Kenya’s President William Ruto, who was sworn in, on September 13 and is expected in Uganda for independence anniversary celebrations on October 9.
Until, October 4, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, was Commander of Uganda’s land forces, but was dropped following a tweet storm that started on September 30 and covered different subjects.
Ugandan social media users like to joke about Gen Kainerugaba’s tendency to post controversial tweets, while in what’s termed a weekend mood. In the past these tweets have ranged from supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine, supporting the war by Tigrayan rebels against the Ethiopian government and suggesting Uganda would allow Rwandan forces into the Democratic Republic of Congo.
And just like most of his other tweeting sprees, this latest one started on a Friday evening, talking about tame subjects like recovering members of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) who were injured last month, when army choppers crashed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Then tweets escalated to controversial, but familiar topics when Gen Kainerugaba once again declared admiration for Russia and onto politically beating opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known by his stage name Bobi Wine.
The tweets also covered subjects such as capturing Rome, by paying 100 heads of cattle to marry possible incoming Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Hours later, the tweets moved from capturing Rome through love to castigating Uhuru Kenyatta who was until September 13, Kenya’s President for leaving after the end of his constitutionally guaranteed two terms in office.
“My only problem with my beloved big brother [Uhuru Kenyatta] is that he didn’t stand for a third term. We would have won easily,” Muhoozi Kainerugaba tweeted.
Kenyans reacted negatively to Gen Kainerugaba’s comments on how their country is ruled. Following Kenyan’s reaction, General Kainerugaba expounded on his idea.
“Haha, I love my Kenyan relatives. Constitution? Rule of Law? You must be joking. For us, there is only revolution, and you will soon learn about it,” tweeted Muhoozi.
Just like Kenya, Uganda used to have a two-term limit under President Museveni. However, in 2005, Parliament supported by President Museveni amended the constitution and removed the two-term limit.
With the constitution amended, Museveni has remained President but stands accused of rigging elections, intimidation, torture, and extra judiciary detaining members of the opposition. It is these habits, by the regime in Kampala that drew an objection from Kenyans to which Gen Kainerugaba reacted by threatening to capture Nairobi.
“It wouldn’t take us, my army and me two weeks to capture Nairobi,” he tweeted.
Following that tweet, which was posted Monday evening, Ugandan officials were forced to apologize to Kenya. Dr Hassan Galiwango Uganda High Commissioner to Kenya was the first, when he went, Tuesday morning for a meeting with Alfred Mutua, Kenya’s incoming foreign affairs Cabinet.
Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also shared an unsigned statement, explaining that General Kainerugaba’s tweets were not official foreign policy.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to clarify that the Government of the Republic of Uganda does not conduct its foreign policy and other official business through social media, nor does it depend on social media sources in dealing with other sovereign governments,” reads the statement in part.
President Museveni then followed that with the promotion of Kainerugaba from Lieutenant General, while at the same time dropping him as Commander of the land forces.
Uganda last threatened Kenya’s territorial bodies in 1976. For days, President Idi Amin threatened to annex parts of western Kenya. Uganda’s relationship with Kenya has always been delicate, as former President Arap Moi did not like how President Museveni came to power.
For a short while, there was hope of improving relations between the two countries, as President Kenyatta, alongside Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Museveni conducted a bromance, colloquially known as the coalition of the willing.
By the end of President Kenyatta’s term, the bromance had fizzled out, as Kenya banned Ugandan maize, sugar, milk, eggs, and sugarcane in what several Ugandan experts have called a trade war.
Members of Uganda’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) expected a new dawn following William Ruto’s ascent to the Presidency.
Unlike Kenya’s opposition strongman Raila Odinga whose campaign rhetoric was clearly anti-Uganda, Ruto has been friendly to Uganda, but with Gen Kainerugaba’s comments, it remains to be seen if the good relationship will hold.