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Defense ministry distances itself from Muhoozi tweets

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By Andrew Bagala
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense and Veterans Affairs, and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), has said tweets by the Commander of Land Forces about the Ethiopian Tigray rebels are his personal opinion, but not of the army.
                                                                     Uganda’s first son and commander of the Land Forces, Lt-Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba. PHOTO/FILE

Lt Gen Muhoozi hasn’t tweeted anything since June 25.

In an interview with the BBC’s Focus on Africa on Monday, Brig Felix Kulayigye, while cautiously avoiding to directly talk about Lt Gen Muhoozi Muhoozi by name, said the tweets by the First Son, who doubles as the Commander of Land Forces, in which he supported the Tigray People’s Liberation Force (TPDF) rebels, were not a position of the UPDF.

“I am aware of everything that the military does. And if you noticed, that was a tweet not from the Commander of the Defense Forces of the UPDF, not from the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense. So it can’t be our official position,” Brig Kulayigye told the BBC.
Lt Gen Kainerugaba tweeted statements in support of the Tigray rebels and accused the Ethiopian government of carrying out rights abuses. The Ethiopian media, diplomats and military have been tying his statements to the report circulating on social media accusing Uganda of funding and training TPDF rebels in Uganda.

Lt Gen Muhoozi has neither deleted the tweets nor made corrections about his support to the Tigray people. In fact, he has been praising Egypt, a bitter rival of Ethiopia, and promising to ally with it in case of any attack on it.

Brig Kulayigye told the BBC that “information concerning the official position of Uganda’s Defense ministry on matters relating to other militaries is given officially, not through tweets.”

Although Uganda denied supporting Ethiopian rebels and called the alleged leaked intelligence report a total fabrication, the claims have had serious consequences to Uganda’s diplomacy in the region.

Several Uganda officials, including Defense minister Vincent Ssempijja, Chief of Defense Forces Gen Wilson Mbadi and diplomats flew to Ethiopia and met top Ethiopian military officers to distance themselves from the tweets and the alleged report.

Last week, President Museveni sent a radio message to military units stopping all officers from using their social media accounts to post issues related to Uganda’s international relations and also partisan politics.

Lt Gen Muhoozi hasn’t tweeted anything since June 25.

Lt Gen Muhoozi’s tweets about M23 rebels also caused diplomatic problems to Uganda in the Democratic Republic of Congo that Congolese leaders threatened to halt the joint operations against Allied Democratic Forces rebels in the eastern part of the country.

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