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Museveni, offside on US forces

By Musere Kibutu
Musere KibutuYoweri Kaguta Museveni, Uganda's former rebel leader who ascended to that country's helm - from bush to power - in January 1986, is indeed a President gone askew by all Pan African standards.

The recent sending of 100 United States of America special soldiers to Uganda, at Museveni's invitation, to deal with rebels led by Joseph Kony is not only an affront to democracy but an insult and assault to Africanism. It is indeed a selfdefeating act.

At a time when Africa is making frantic efforts to find lasting home-grown solutions for its political conflicts in the aftermath of the fatal results of the occupation of Libya by foreign forces, Museveni invites American soldiers to his country.

When Museveni came into power, he was hailed as one of the few leaders, alongside President Mugabe of Zimbabwe to bring stability to their countries and to show flashes of brilliance into African governance.

With the notable exception of northern areas which, Kony occupies, Museveni brought relative stability and economic growth to a country that had endured decades of government mismanagement, rebel activity and civil war. Museveni came as a refreshing choice from the mediocrity brought by Idi Amini Dada and Milton Obote's war antics and exchange of power in bloody coups.

His tenure also witnessed one of the most effective national responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa but today, his politics has gone off route.In the midto- late 1990s, Museveni was lauded by the West as part of a new generation of African leaders and this explains in American "political ancestry."

Museveni's presidency has been marred, however, by invading and occupying Congo during the Second Congo War and other conflicts in the Great Lakes region. Rebellion in the north of Uganda by the Lord's Resistance Army continues to perpetuate one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. Recent developments, including the abolition of presidential term limits before the 2006 elections and the harassment of democratic opposition, have attracted concern from domestic commentators and the international community.

Museveni used sectarian violence which had overshadowed Uganda's recent history was put forward as a justification for restricting the activities of the political parties and their ethnically distinct supporter bases. The non-party system did not prohibit political parties, but prevented them from fielding candidates directly in elections.

The so-called "Movement" system, which Museveni said claimed the loyalty of every Ugandan, would be a cornerstone in politics for nearly twenty years.

Museveni was involved in the war that deposed Idi Amin Dada, ending his rule in 1979, and in the rebellion that subsequently led to the demise of the Milton Obote regime in 1985.Museveni has been among the African leaders who do not miss African Union summits and is a great contributor to progressive African thinking but why he is now going to bed with the Americans at the most critical stage of Africa's selfdefence, really defied logic.

At this stage, events in Libya and indeed Egypt and Tunisia, Liberia even, have shown that Africa need to come up with its own military entities to deal with trouble spots. Sadc has a standby brigade and so does the West African community and East Africa should follow suite instead of inviting foreign powers.

What makes a president invite foreign forces as if he has no army, really means something awkward is happening in Uganda. America will now have to manipulate the politics of Uganda and its soldiers will not only help Museveni but will spy on him and when the time comes, they will remove him easily. It sounds like Museveni, for long considered sharp and intelligent has forgotten the biblical story of the camel that eventually took over the room.

This is time for leaders like Museveni, to rally behind AU and cement relations between the Sadc Brigade, the west African one and East Africa to come up with a united an army. Musere Kibutu is a political science lecturer at Makerere University.


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