By Barbara Among and Joyce Namutebi
President Yoweri Museveni has described the situation in Somalia, where hard-line Islamists are battling the transitional Government, as genocide.
â€œThis is a type of genocide. Genocide does not have to be overnight. You can have slow genocide. Why should Africans suffer like this?â€ the President said.
He was addressing guests at Serena Hotel on Monday at a function to mark the 46th anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity (now African Union).
Clashes between the insurgents and government troops have left at least 200 people dead since the beginning of May and displaced another 60,000 people.
President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist elected by a unity government in January, says radical al-Shabab fighters, accused of having links to al-Qaeda, have in their ranks foreigners who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Uganda and Burundi are the only countries that have contributed soldiers to the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia, forming a force of 4,300, far short of the 8,000 troops needed.
Museveni named Somalia and Darfur as the only conflicts remaining in Africa, noting that the AU is addressing it with the urgency and seriousness it deserves.
â€œAt a political level, progress has been made in the area of continental peace and security, through our Peace and Security Council. Africa is increasingly taking responsibility with regard to the remaining parts on the continent,â€ he said.
He cited the peace efforts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Burundi, and the current efforts in Darfur and Somalia, as a demonstration of the resolve by African leaders to solve their own problems.
Museveni, however, pointed that the continent still faces economic challenges that should be addressed if the continent is to achieve the Millennium Develop Goals.
â€œChallenges remain on the economic front, especially the roads, the railway and electricityâ€, he noted. â€œIn the last 45 years, except for South Africa and Mauritius, no African country has transited from the Third World to the First World.â€
Richard Kabonero, the dean of the African diplomatic corps, cited piracy and terrorism as the greatest threat to Africanâ€™s peace and stability.
He appealed to Africa and the international community to find a lasting solution to the chaos in Somalia with a view of eradicating the potential terrorism threat in the Gulf of Aden.
â€œUganda and Burundi have contributed positively. However, much more should have been achieved if the mandate and size of the peacekeeping force were addressed,â€ he noted.
On the political front, Kabonero reported that the AU had suspended Madagascar, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea Conakry following recent coups in those countries.
Meanwhile, a senior Government official has said Uganda has no intention of withdrawing its troops from Somalia.
â€œThe AU mission has no plan to withdraw. We have played a positive role. We would want to see that built on rather than dismantled,â€ Ambassador James Mugume, the foreign affairs permanent secretary, told journalists yesterday during the induction workshop for new Ugandan ambassadors.
Uganda last week announced it will soon send another contingent to Mogadishu to replace the ones who are there.