Uganda weighs in on Libya
PRESIDENT YOWERI MUSEVENI | 4/12/2011, 4:45 p.m.
By the time Muammar Gaddafi came to power in 1969, I was a third-year university student in Dar-es-Salaam. We welcomed him because he followed in the tradition of Col. Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, who had a nationalist and pan-Arabist position.
Soon, however, problems cropped up with Gaddafi as far as Uganda and Black Africa were concerned.
*Idi Amin came to power with the support of Britain and Israel because they thought he was uneducated enough to be used by them. Amin, however, turned against his sponsors when they refused to sell him guns to fight Tanzania. Unfortunately, Gaddafi jumped in to support Amin without getting enough information about Uganda. This was because Amin was a Muslim and Uganda was a Muslim country, where Muslims were being "oppressed" by Christians. Amin killed a lot of people by extra-judiciary means, and Gaddafi was identified with these mistakes. In 1972 and 1979, Gaddafi sent Libyan troops to defend Amin when we attacked him.
I remember a Libyan Tupolev 22 bomber trying to bomb us in Mbarara in 1979. The bomb ended up in Nyarubanga because the pilots were scared and could not come close enough to bomb properly. We had already shot down many of Amin's MIGs using surface-to-air missiles. Our Tanzanian brothers and sisters were doing much of this fighting.
Many Libyan militias were captured and repatriated to Libya by Tanzania. This was a big mistake by Gaddafi, and a direct aggression against the people of Uganda and East Africa.
*The second big mistake by Gaddafi was his position vis--vis the African Union Continental Government that he has been pushing since 1999.
Black people are always polite. They normally do not want to offend other people. This is called obufura in Runyankore, mwolo in Luo; handling others, especially strangers, with care and respect. It seems that some of the non-African cultures do not have obufura. You can witness someone talking to a mature person as if he or she is talking to a kindergarten child: "You should do this, you should do that, etc."
We tried to politely point out to Gaddafi that this was difficult in the short and medium term. We should, instead, aim at the Economic Community of Africa and, where possible, also aim at Regional Federations. Gaddafi would not relent. He would not respect the rules of the AU. Something that had been covered by previous meetings would be resurrected by Gaddafi. He would 'overrule' a decision taken by all other African heads of state. Some of us were forced to come out and oppose his wrong positions and, by working with others, we repeatedly defeated his illogical positions.
*The third mistake is his tendency to interfere in the internal affairs of many African countries using the little money Libya has compared to those countries.
One blatant example is his involvement with the cultural leaders of Black Africa--kings, chiefs, etc. Since the political leaders of Africa had refused to back his project of an African government, Gaddafi, incredibly, thought that he could bypass them and work with these kings to implement his wishes.