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President Museveni cannot betray Africa to please the West

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th September 2011 08:00 PM

THE Daily Monitor’s headline on Friday, September 16 screamed: "Museveni, Zuma dump Gaddafi". In a bold red-and black hue kicker, the deceptively titled story questioned whether the two leaders who took a principled stand against NATO–led military campaign to oust Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gadaffi were “playing a catch-up”.

THE Daily Monitor’s headline on Friday, September 16 screamed: "Museveni, Zuma dump Gaddafi". In a bold red-and black hue kicker, the deceptively titled story questioned whether the two leaders who took a principled stand against NATO–led military campaign to oust Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gadaffi were “playing a catch-up”.

Mary Karooro Okurut

THE Daily Monitor’s headline on Friday, September 16 screamed: "Museveni, Zuma dump Gaddafi". In a bold red-and black hue kicker, the deceptively titled story questioned whether the two leaders who took a principled stand against NATO–led military campaign to oust Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gadaffi were “playing a catch-up”.

It highlighted, of course erroneously, that the African Union (AU) had made a U-turn to recognise the National Transitional Council whose fighters stormed Tripoli on August 21. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

On March 17, the UN Security Council (UNSC) passed resolution 1973 on Libya. It required protection of civilians, compliance by Col Gadaffi’s leadership with international laws and a ceasefire to allow unhindered haulage of humanitarian aid.The resolution incorporated the March 12, 2011 League of Arab States proposal for a “no-fly” zone, and the appointment of Abdel-Elah Mohamed Al-Khatib as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s special emissary to facilitate “dialogue (in Libya) to lead to political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution”. It mentioned nothing about regime change!

It was on the basis of this noble purpose that South Africa, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea that represent Africa on the UNSC as non-permanent members voted in favour of the resolution. Already the AU had on March 10, 2011 constituted its own High level ad hoc committee of which Uganda, represented by either President Yoweri Museveni or Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, was a member, to pursue a negotiated settlement.

President Museveni has played a stellar role in restoring regional peace and security—from helping halting pogrom in Rwanda; facilitating South Sudan’s liberation and the peace process in Burundi as well as stabilising eastern DRC and now Somalia.

These accomplishments make Museveni a consultant, and envy, for other leaders on the continent and beyond. He has developed an unrivalled wisdom to discern and analyse solutions to each conflict based on their unique circumstances. That is why on Libya, he reasoned— and as the AU would agree—that Libya’s political future should be decided by all Libyans. And excluding Col. Gadaffi, it will be recognised in the long term, was ill-thought. War costs were enormously high in terms of human lives, destroyed infrastructure, dismantled societies, causalities, lost contribution to economic development and rebuilding outlay.

Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes, writing in the Washington Post on September 5, 2010, noted that the combined cost of America’s invasion of Iraq in monetary terms — and it is still climbing —exceeds $3trillion which is more than 60 times the $50 – 60m that former President George Bush’s government projected when he authorised the war! In fact, some scholars argue that the Iraq war and its effects on other oil-producing countries in the region spiralled price of the black-gold from less than $25 a barrel at the start of the invasion in 2003 to $140 by 2008. This again is when the financial meltdown peaked. Why?

Partly because world economies driven by runaway costs of doing fuel-powered businesses got heated and some analysts string this as a cause of the economic turmoil that battered the West, and resulted in further impoverishment of developing economies due to shrinking export markets-cum-remittances from the diaspora.

Such can be the unintended – even unfathomed monumental consequence of war— that it should not be rushed simply because of the allure of exploiting the natural resources of a targeted country, or indeed the towering military might of the attackers.

“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind,” John F. Kennedy once remarked. So the AU and Uganda’s insistence at the time on talks should not be ridiculed as cowardice. Rather it was a principled stand informed by years of expertise about Africa’s problems. In any case, war is larger than just battle victories. No amount of civilisation has, and will, ever inject democracy by dropping bombs.

Gladly, the interim NTC leadership has agreed to submit itself to implement tenets of the AU roadmap that Uganda espouses—an all-inclusive interim government, making of a new Constitution and undertaking political reforms necessary for holding democratic elections that fulfil aspirations of all Libyan people.

Libya has exposed the hypocrisy of some Western powers. The NTC’s acquiescence to the African crafted blueprint is the lasting victory for the AU and Uganda. Thus it is President Museveni and Jacob Zuma, who articulated the AU’s position and rallied support for it, that have in the end won. They have made no U-turn, and have no reason to, since none of these great contemporary African leaders is a turncoat.

The writer is the Minister of
Information and National Guidance


President Museveni cannot betray Africa to please the West

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