President Yoweri Museveni has named a new cabinet, with close allies retaining key positions, while giving his wife the education portfolio.
The announcement was released on Monday ahead of this week’s 2016/17 budget reading.
The First Lady, Janet Museveni Kataaha is the new minister of education and sports in the 81-member Cabinet. The education docket is highly coveted in Uganda as it receives the largest share of the annual budget.
Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, has ruled the country for 30 years. He was declared the winner of the February presidential election after garnering 60 percent of the vote, against his main opponent Kizza Besigye, who got 35 percent of the vote. Museveni was on May 12 sworn in as the president amid protests by the opposition led by Besigye.
In his argument, Besigye rejected the results saying there was widespread rigging, intimidation by security forces and bribery.
Since the February poll, Besigye was placed under virtual house arrest with his supporters taking to the streets to demand his release. But things took a dramatic turn, a day ahead of the presidential inauguration, when the opposition leader, in a mock ceremony was sworn in as the president.
This move attracted charges of treason, against Besigye. Since May 13, the opposition leader has been in detention.
In his new line-up, most of his main ministers have been reappointed.
Museveni reappointed his Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and upheld Matia Kasaija as the finance minister, and Irene Muloni as the energy minister.
A human rights lawyer and political commentator, Andrew Karamagi, told Reuters the new cabinet's selection criteria appeared based on a need to balance varied ethnic and religious interests to maintain a broad base of political support.
"It's less about performance, about delivery, about citizens," Karamagi said.
Many of the new faces were in smaller ministries or as ministers of state.
But Government spokesman Shaban Bantariza rejected the claims, arguing Museveni was certain about his appointees' merits.
In a survey carried out by Forbes, Museveni was named among the ‘World’s Worst Rulers’. He was listed 6th of the World’s 10 Worst Dictators after the outlet put a question to readers on Facebook and Twitter.
Museveni ranks as one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders along with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Jose Eduardo dos Santos in Angola and Paul Biya of Cameroon.
In 2005, Ugandan lawmakers removed presidential term limits, allowing candidates to seek presidential positions until the age of 75.
Now at 71, Museveni will not be illegible to run for elections at the end of his five-year term. Critics say the eastern African leader has, however, groomed his eldest son to take his position following recent promotions which saw Muhoozi Kainerugaba promoted from Brigadier to Major General, heading the Special Forces Command (SFC).
Recently, the son of Uganda’s President rejected the claims saying he was happy with being in military “for some time”. He added he harbors no presidential ambitions.
"I am very happy in the military and in case I wanted to join politics, I know the procedures to go through," he told the Observer.
Image credit: Xinhua/Reuters Photo