By Paul Ndiho
April 20, 2011
Uganda’s president is stepping up his criticism of the West for interfering in internal African politics. Yoweri Museveni warns that there will be strong consequences for Western nations if they continue to intervene in African affairs.
President Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s long-time leader has criticized Western involvement in Africa, and threatens a ”Vietnam-style” scenario if foreign troops continued their involvement in Africa. Speaking at a recent press conference, General Museveni said this new phenomenon of Europeans and Americans intervening militarily in Africa without authorization from Africa Union will be defeated.
“Can the European troops go on intervening in Africa? No. They will not, because we shall not allow it. And if they want a new Vietnam they will get it. So if you say what is my reaction to this new situation of European troops coming into Africa without the permission of the African Union, I can tell you it will stop. Like we defeated colonialism in the past, this one also will be defeated,”
In March, Museveni condemned foreign air strikes against the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, accusing the West of double standards and a thirst for more oil. But his critics say that General Museveni doesn’t criticize the West when they are supporting his side. Like Gaddafi, Museveni has ruled the East African nation with an iron fist since 1986 and he continues to suppress protests led by opposition leaders like Kizza Besigye. Museveni defeated Besigye, his main rival, in February’s presidential election with 68 percent of the vote. But, there remains tension between the two men.
“There will be no demonstration in Kampala. In fact, I will call upon the public to really go to Kampala as if there was nothing because in Kampala, Besigye will not demonstrate in Kampala. He will not.”
Ugandan troops arrested Besigye outside his home on Monday as he was leaving to take part in the third “Walk to Work” protest against high food and fuel prices. He was arraigned in court and charged with incitement and engaging in what authorities termed as riotous behavior. Besigye was later released on bail.
“I believe what the prosecution was saying that the state is in fear… it is not in fear of my walking, it is in fear of its citizens, that is not a fear that I can cure The state fears its citizens because it knows its citizens are unhappy about what they are doing in government, stealing their money, misusing their money, abusing their rights while hard working citizens cannot even have enough to have a meal a day. That is what the state is afraid off, and which they think my walking is going to … uh… exacerbate.”
Besigye and other opposition leaders are vowing to move forward with the protests, and are willing to bear the brunt of Museveni’s brutal regime.
“What is happening clearly is that we have a regime that is hell bent on ruling by terror, violating citizens’ rights with impunity.” Besigye said.
Food prices in Uganda are steadily rising after drought diminished output across the country. Higher global oil prices have increased transport costs, pushing up food prices in urban areas even more. The consumer price index jumped 4.1 percent in March from February, raising the year-on-year inflation rate to 11.1 percent, the fifth straight rise. Security forces fired rubber bullets and teargas last Thursday to disperse a crowd of more than one-thousand led by Besigye who was injured after being hit in the finger with one of the rubber bullets.
In 2005, President Museveni’s push for a third term came under stinging attack by western governments, especially from U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Johnnie Carson, who was then the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda. But, with his troops now in Somalia, mister Museveni currently enjoys a good working relationship with the U.S. and other western powers, though critics accuse him of keeping a tight grip on power and not allowing opposition voices to be heard.