WHEN Dr. Olara Otunu came back home to participate in politics last year, the media was awash with stories of how he would use his international â€˜influenceâ€™ to isolate President Yoweri Museveni.
The argument that somewhat he possessed stronger international credentials than Museveni was his position of strength within the Inter-Party Co-operation, a bluff which has since vanished in thin air.
Museveniâ€™s strong interventionist policy, a source of his growing influence and will, probably define his lasting legacy. It has seen Uganda intervene in the internal affairs of several African countries, in line with the principle of the responsibility of leaders to protect human lives wherever they are threatened, anywhere in the world.
The responsibility to protect compels the international community to intervene in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, regard of article 2 (7) of the UN Charter, to secure lives where the government is unwilling or unable to protect them, or where the government is the perpetrator of the crimes against its own people. The principle was adopted by the UN, nation states and a coalition of non-governmental organisations in 2005 in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide.
Initially criticised by different political forces, especially those at home, as a war monger and a military adventurist, for his interventions in Rwanda, Congo, Sudan and Somalia, Museveni is finally getting the attention and recognition that comes with the envisioned success of these interventions.
The political pundits underestimated the influence President Museveni wields in the region and Africa due to the impact of his contributions to several causes as a solution to secure peace and security of the ordinary citizens where their governments were unwilling, or unable to protect them.
The shift in US policy on Uganda, which has been evident in recent weeks, can be interpreted as the recognition of this fact by the ever pragmatic Americans. It is also an acceptance that indeed the opposition does not offer a viable alternative to the leadership of the President.
The media recently published a picture of President Museveni seated on the right hand side of US President Barack Obama. On Obamaâ€™s left was UN secretary general Ban ki Moon. This could not have made a stronger statement. This was at a round-table meeting on Sudan, which involved other prominent world leaders including the presidents of Turkey, Argentina and Nigeria. The meeting was hosted on the sidelines of the just concluded meeting of the UN general assembly. As per diplomatic protocols, that President Museveni seated as such indicates his importance and influence on the future of Sudan, given the impending referendum that might see South Sudan become a new nation.
Recently, there was a statement by Ambassador Jonnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, dismissing insinuations that Museveni is a dictator. He referred to him as a duly elected President of the republic of Uganda who was elected in a free and fair election. This undermined any effort by the opposition to convince the international community of their anti-Museveni agenda.
In the New Vision of September 27, Carson reiterates his view of the President as the most influential leader in East Africa, and certainly one of the most important in Africa.
This is on the background of earlier statements by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in support and praise of President Museveni for his contributions to secure Somalia and Southern Sudan.
When the President initially argued for Ugandaâ€™s peacekeeping intervention in Somalia, the twin bombings of 7/11 had not occurred.
His decision to send peacekeeping troops to Somalia was no different from the decision made in the 1990s to participate in securing peace and security for the Rwandans, amid international criticisms, at the height of the genocide, and the international community unwilling to intervene and save the ordinary citizen from the madness of their leaders.
The long standing support to the people of Southern Sudan who have over the years been subjugated by the less compromising Northern Arab led government, has resulted in a possible situation where the mostly black Southern Sudanese might gain a right for self determination after the 2011 referendum.
To secure peace and stability in Burundi, Uganda over the years employed extensive national resources to achieve the relative peace that prevails.
The situation in Somalia was a classic example of where the government was unable to protect its own citizens, and, therefore, warranted the intervention of the international community.
Museveniâ€™s leadership record, and the experiences of hope that the success of these interventions present in Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia, sets a positive precedent for the application of the principle (responsibility to protect), which had otherwise been undermined by its selective application by major powers, only when it satisfied national interests.
Museveniâ€™s global influence on the rise