Yes, Museveni Not “Responsible” For Bloodshed

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[Publisher’s Comment]

I read an article dated September 15, in the Daily Monitor, one of the Ugandan newspapers, under the headline “I am not responsible for Buganda crisis –Museveni,” wherein Uganda’s dictator denies any responsibility for the political crisis that led to the protests that were violently suppressed last week, claiming a reported more than 20 lives.

The Ugandan, who was a favorite of George W. Bush, and sees himself as life-president, presents a test case for President Barack Obama’s proposed new U.S. policy towards Africa as outlined in his Accra Speech, which rejected tyranny and one-man rule, in favor of enduring institutions of governance in Africa.

The way the U.S. handles the dictator, heading into national elections there in 2011, will demonstrate whether the Administration plans to live up to the promise in the speech or not. Initial signs are favorable; the Obama Administration has rejected appeals by Uganda’s paid lobbyists, and from former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, to broker a Museveni meeting with Obama in the White House. Still, he continues to get heavy support from the U.K.

The Daily Monitor article I refer to, dealt with a speech Museveni had made to Parliament in the aftermath of the killings of demonstrators who had thrown stones at police. In the address, Museveni reportedly said he had restored hereditary monarchies –including Buganda’s—to Uganda, after they had been abolished in the 1960s by a predecessor, President Milton Obote, so that they could preserve “cultural heritages like language” instead of promoting “chauvinism.”

The protests reportedly erupted after Museveni’s security agents blocked a visit by an emissary of Kabaka Mutebi II, one of the hereditary monarchs, to a region in Buganda; Buganda is a region in Uganda and home to the Baganda, the largest ethnic group. The Kabaka is the Buganda monarch and his emissary had planned to pave the way for a later visit by Mutebi II himself.

Museveni’s characterization of events, in the speech, was his way of minimizing the national crises brewing as Ugandans from all regions –whether they support or reject hereditary monarchs—have tired of 23 years of tyrannous and militaristic regime, which had been heavily backed by Washington for years.

Yet, on this occasion, I must agree with Museveni that he is not “responsible.” As president for-life, commander-in-chief, and generalissimo, Museveni can certainly pick and choose what he is "responsible" for.

So for example, if there is economic growth in Uganda, obviously the president will claim responsibility.

But: when his regime herds two million human beings into concentration camps in Acholi region, as his did, and the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that at least 52,000 civilians were dying per year in those camps--or 520,000 over a 10-year period, then of course Museveni is not "responsible";  when he trains an Army and equips it and finances it and provides logistical support and allows it to invade a neighboring country,  Rwanda, and the president of that country Juvenal Habyrarimana is assassinated in a missile attack on his plane reportedly by the invading army, and the country erupts in genocidal massacres,  of course Museveni is not "responsible";  when he then invades DR Congo for a second time, in 1997 --the first invasion most of the world excused because it deposed tyrant and Kleptocrat Mobuttu Sese Seko-- and his army occupies Eastern DRC, looting and destroying property, committing massacres and mass rapes, and creating conditions for the deaths of more than 5 million Congolese, and according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which awarded Congo $10 billion, and the DR Congo government, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and causing the ICC to launch its own continuing investigation of Museveni;  then, of course Museveni is not "responsible."

So quite naturally, and "logically," how can anyone blame Museveni for the current crisis when he is immune to responsibility for any negative outcomes?  Ultimately, the question is, can an "irresponsible" person be blamed with responsibility?

Perhaps that’s the point Museveni was trying to make.

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