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Museveni following Mugabe’s footsteps

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is patterning himself after President Robert Mugabe and wants to position his son, Lieutenant Colonel Muhoozi Kainerugaba Museveni, as his eventual successor.

Former Ugandan Minister of Health Mike Mukula downplayed talk of First Lady Janet Museveni’s presidential ambitions, saying that she preferred to remain the power behind the throne, shielded from public criticism and scrutiny, as she lacked the stamina and focus needed to run a presidential campaign.

Mukula said Museveni was grooming his son but Muhoozi was still too young to mount a presidential bid for 2016.

Muhoozi returned from the US Army Command and General Staff College in mid-2008 to assume command of the new Special Forces.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09KAMPALA1096, UGANDA: NATIONAL RESISTANCE MOVEMENT INSIDER SEES

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09KAMPALA1096

2009-09-23 06:08

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Kampala

VZCZCXRO2054

RR RUEHRN RUEHROV

DE RUEHKM #1096/01 2660608

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 230608Z SEP 09

FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1796

INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE

RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KAMPALA 001096

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2019

TAGS: PGOV KDEM PREL UG

SUBJECT: UGANDA: NATIONAL RESISTANCE MOVEMENT INSIDER SEES

TROUBLE AHEAD

 

REF: A. KAMPALA 00946

B. KAMPALA 01044

 

Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Aaron Sampson for

reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) “Captain” Mike Mukula, disgraced former Ugandan Health

Minister and current National Resistance Movement (NRM)

vice-chairman for eastern Uganda, warned that the 2011

presidential elections will be worse than the deeply flawed

2006 presidential contest. Mukula, whose political

reputation was battered by the 2006 Global Alliance for

Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) scandal, said the September

10-12 riots provided a brief preview of one potential

election scenario. He also said President Museveni’s

popularity was decreasing within the NRM, and speculated that

Museveni may be interested in setting up his son, Muhoozi, as

dauphin. Mukula said Museveni ultimately listens to only two

countries – the U.S. and the U.K. – and urged the U.S. to

pressure Museveni to reinstate presidential term limits.

Mukula himself, however, hopes to run for president in 2016.

End Summary.

 

——————————–

The Many Lives of “Captain” Mike

——————————–

 

2. (C) An ethnic Iteso from Soroti District in eastern

Uganda, Mukula’s training as a commercial pilot in Texas

earned him the sobriquet “Captain”. He has managing

interests in the Voice of Teso radio station, the Soroti Inn,

United Airlines (Uganda) Ltd., Voice Media, and Riham

Biscuits. Mukula prefaced his luncheon discussion with the

Mission with a detailed run-down of his accomplishments to

date. This included his personal role in improving Uganda’s

health indicators while serving as Health Minister from 2001

to 2006, participation in a counter terrorism course in

Israel in 2002, and his subsequent organization of the Arrow

Boys militia to push the Lord’s Resistance Army out of Teso

region in 2003. Mukula said he was working on a

correspondence PhD in Philosophy at a South African

university, had attended Harvard’s Kennedy School of

Government, and was currently writing a book on corruption in

Africa – a topic he claims he is the first to examine.

 

————–

The “Fall Guy”

————–

 

3. (C) Mukula lost his Cabinet post in 2006 and was briefly

imprisoned in 2007 after being accused of diverting USD 1.5

million from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and

Immunization (GAVI) program to NRM coffers. Describing

himself as Museveni’s “fall guy,” Mukula blamed his

involvement in the GAVI scandal on Museveni’s need to placate

international donors concerned about corruption, and his own

rising popularity as evidenced by a newspaper poll that

listed Mukula as more popular with the NRM faithful than the

President. He claimed that most of the missing GAVI funds

were used by First Lady Janet Museveni. Although he said he

understood the political calculations that ended, at least

for the time being, his political career, Mukula underscored

the political nature of his downfall by confiding that he has

been unable to leave the country since his passport was

confiscated three years ago.

 

——————–

Museveni and the NRM

——————–

 

4. (C) Now the NRM’s vice-chairman for eastern Uganda and a

key member of Museveni’s re-election campaign, Mukula

complained that there is no separation between the NRM and

Ugandan state institutions. He called the military Uganda’s

“fourth estate” and said Museveni regards the army as his

personal political party. Mukula highlighted the complete

dominance of Museveni’s Banyankole ethnic group throughout

the government, military, and business community, and

asserted that the NRM now serves as nothing more than

platform for the President, springing to life only during

election campaigns.

 

5. (C) Mukula claimed to have shared his view of the NRM’s

degeneration with Museveni directly, along with warnings that

support for Museveni and the NRM is slipping. Mukula said

Museveni had hoped to organize an internal party primary to

select the NRM’s presidential candidate but quickly scuttled

the idea after realizing that his popularity within the NRM

is slipping. Mukula named Ugandan Vice President Gilbert

 

KAMPALA 00001096 002 OF 003

 

 

Bukenya, an ethnic Baganda, as the NRM’s most popular leader.

He said Museveni kept Bukenya on as his Vice President to

keep tabs on Bukenya’s potential presidential ambitions.

 

————————-

2011 Presidential Contest

————————-

 

6. (C) Describing the recent riots as “Uganda’s 9/11,”

Mukula said they provided a small glimpse of what could

happen in 2011 if things go seriously off-track. Noting the

dominance of Museveni’s ethnic group in all government

institutions, he warned of serious reprisals from groups long

excluded from power.

 

7. (C) When asked how he thought the 2011 elections would

compare to the flawed 2006 presidential contest, Mukula said

the 2011 elections would be much worse. He said Museveni’s

re-election team believed Museveni would get 10 percentage

points less than he received in 2006, giving him only 49

percent of the vote. Mukula said the recent political moves

made by Museveni – from pandering to ethnic Banyoro along

Lake Albert (ref. A), to the recognition of the Rwenzururu

Kingdom in southwestern Uganda and the decision to support

the minority Banyala’s quest for autonomy from the Buganda

Kingdom (ref. B) – were all designed to obtain the two

percentage points needed to push Museveni from 49 to 51

percent during the first round of voting in 2011.

 

8. (C) Mukula conceded that northern and central Uganda would

likely go to opposition candidates in free and fair

elections. He downplayed talk of First Lady Janet Museveni’s

presidential ambitions, saying that she preferred to remain

the power behind the throne, shielded from public criticism

and scrutiny, as she lacked the stamina and focus needed to

run a presidential campaign. Mukula said Museveni was

increasingly patterning himself after Robert Mugabe and wants

to position his son, Lieutenant Colonel Muhoozi Kainerugaba

Museveni, as his eventual successor. Muhoozi returned from

the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in mid-2008

to assume command of the new Special Forces, a still-murky

component – or potentially entirely separate unit – of the

praetorian Presidential Guard Brigade comprised of all the

PGB’s elite, technical, and specialized non-infantry

capabilities. Noting that Muhoozi may still be too young to

mount a credible presidential bid in 2016, Mukula again

volunteered that he had presidential ambitions of his own for

2016.

 

——————-

Regional Leadership

——————-

 

9. (C) Pointing that Uganda alone among the East African

Community (EAC) does not have presidential term limits,

Mukula also said distrust of Museveni was one of the main

factors limiting any progress towards a regional political

federation. He said none of the regional presidents were

willing to jeopardize their relations with Uganda by

criticizing Museveni. Mukula added that he is a close friend

of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga – Odinga reportedly

stayed at Mukula’s home during a recent visit to Kampala –

and said Odinga keeps up a friendly public persona with

Museveni despite extreme private distrust.

 

———————

Uganda-U.S. Relations

———————

 

10. (C) Mukula urged the U.S. to pressure Museveni to

reinstate presidential term limits. He listed Somalia as an

example of Museveni’s efforts to remain indispensable to the

U.S. Mukula also speculated that Uganda’s support to

southern Sudan also enabled Museveni to preserve strong ties

with the U.S.

 

——————————————— –

Comment: Self-Interested but Still Interesting

——————————————— –

 

11. (C) While Mukula’s honesty and motives are open to

question, and his descriptions of Museveni’s internal

calculations reflect his own self-interest, he is

nevertheless one of the few NRM insiders willing to criticize

both Museveni and internal NRM dynamics. However, his

observations about Museveni’s slipping popularity within the

NRM and Vice President Bukenya’s expanding internal support

are worth noting. His views may offer some insight into the

key battleground region of eastern Uganda and Museveni’s

 

KAMPALA 00001096 003 OF 003

 

 

re-election strategy as the 2011 elections approach.

LANIER

 

(9 VIEWS)

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