1 January 2013

Uganda: Do Not Let CAR Govt Fall


Rebels seeking to oust the Central African Republic President, Francois Bozize, are closing in on the capital, Bangui.

The president, who himself took power using arms nearly ten years ago, has appealed for help but not enough is forthcoming. So far, only Chad and Congo Brazzaville have sent a handful of soldiers to help secure the capital. Desperate to save his government, Bozize has offered to share power with the Seleka rebels and also promised not to seek re-election when his current term - the second - expires in 2016.

But given the strong position they find themselves in, the rebels could ignore these concessions and continue their amazing run to the capital. A violent change of government could have repercussions for Uganda's security given that our soldiers dominate an African Union force hunting the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the CAR jungles.

It is a disappointing indication of incompetence that the CAR government is unable to protect itself and its citizens from the marauding rebels. However, that can't justify an unconstitutional change of government. Such manoeuvres must be a thing of the past in Africa if the continent is to completely shake off its image as a place on earth where lawlessness prevails.

More so, as far as CAR is concerned, the culture of violent change of governments, which has seen coups and armed rebellions become the order of the days since independence, must be broken. Besides the obvious humanitarian problems, experience has shown that such armed conflicts have far-reaching and long-lasting political and economic repercussions for the affected country, despite claims to the contrary by those seeking to overthrow the old order.

Moreover, there's no guarantee that the rebels, once in power, would govern any better than the current regime. Therefore, CAR's neighbours and the African Union must join hands and protect the CAR government if not for anything but to send a message to Africa's warlords that the era of grabbing power just like that has long passed.

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