President Museveni has dropped Gen Aronda Nyakairima, the Chief of Defence Forces, and Lt Gen Ivan Koreta, his deputy — the only remaining members of the core group that took part in the guerrilla war that brought him to power in 1986, who still held top positions in the army.
They were replaced with Lt Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, formerly Commander of Land Forces, who was promoted to General, and Charles Angina, formerly Chief of Staff of Land Forces, who was promoted from Major General to Lieutenant General.
Gen Nyakairima was made Minister of Internal Affairs while Lt Gen Koreta was appointed ambassador to an as yet to be vacant station.
The changes were made on Thursday night, on the heels of a meeting of the Military High Command, the army’s highest decision-making organ.
Gen Nyakairima appears as one of the targets in the internal memo that Gen David Sejusa wrote to the Director General of the Internal Security Organisation to investigate claims of a plan to assassinate senior government officials opposed to a rumoured scheme by President Museveni to have his son, Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba, succeed him.
Although Lt Gen Koreta is likely to slide silently into his new role, given his affable character, Gen Nyakairima faces the task of working directly with the Inspector General of Police, Lt Gen Kale Kayihura, whose docket constitutes the largest vote in the ministry and is seen as an effective controller of security alongside Brig Muhoozi, who commands the Special Forces that includes all specialised units of the army.
Sources privy to the inside workings of the military and security say the two men have long had icy relations. For instance, during the last general election, the two clashed over who ultimately had control of security.
Whereas Lt Gen Kayihura argued that elections were a civil process and thus naturally the responsibility of the police, Gen Nyakairima insisted elections tended to threaten national security and as such were the responsibility of the army.
In Lt Gen Kayihura’s tenure as IGP, the power and influence of the police as well as that of the Special Forces have grown even as those of the army dwindled.
Analysts say that the departure from the army’s top leadership of people who could lay claim to having fought in the guerrilla war that brought the current government to power in 1986 represents a significant shift.
In other changes, five of those promoted formerly worked in the presidential guard unit before it was transformed into a Command. For instance, Brig Wilson Mbadi, who was promoted to Maj Gen and appointed Joint Chief of Staff had, until very recently, been President Museveni’s aide de camp.
The position of JCOS is vital as a monitoring point for the three service positions: Land Forces, Air Forces, and General Administration.
Besides Maj Gen Mbadi is Brig David Muhoozi, formerly Commander Air Defence Division, who was promoted to Maj Gen and appointed Commander Land Forces; Brig Samuel Turyagyenda, Commander Airforce, who was promoted to Major General.
There is also Brig Leopold Kyanda, formerly Chief of Personnel and Administration, who was appointed Chief of Staff Land Forces; and Col Emmanuel Kanyesigye, formerly 5th Division Operations Officer, who was transferred to command the 4th Division.