3 May 2018

East Africa: Museveni - Drop Violence As a Means of Conflict Resolution

Photo: PPU
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni with his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir during the 4th National Liberation Council Meeting of the SPLM in Juba.

Juba, South Sudan — Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has addressed the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) National Liberation Council Meeting where he appealed to its leaders to drop violence as a means of conflict resolution.

"Force should be reserved for the enemy. A disagreement among brothers should not be resolved through force," Museveni said at the Freedom Hall in Juba on Thursday.

He talked strongly about the importance of resolving political difference in a peaceful way. "Whatever the political differences, South Sudan leaders should embrace dialogue and work towards having national elections. Some people have been coming to Uganda saying they want to start a war because Salva Kiir is being controlled by some elders. Should that be cause for war?"

He likened force to surgery. "It should be the last resort to removing a tumour. If you use the knife to cut anyhow, you cease to be a surgeon, you become a butcher. Revolutionaries should know that violence is only for enemies. What enmity is there among the people of South Sudan?"

"If there is mismanagement, work for peace then prepare for elections. You then resolve everything through the vote. Use the ballot to punish those who have misbehaved."

The SPLM Council meeting went ahead without the former first vice president and most of the former detainees who had been expected to attend. Council members, including Dr Riek Machar, Deng Alor, Majak Agoot, and Pagan Amum, were reportedly invited to participate in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the reunification of the SPLM factions, the High Level Revitalization Forum, and National Dialogue in the country.

Museveni said he was nevertheless happy to see efforts moving well, with the SPLM siting together to discuss the critical stability of South Sudan stability. "Unlike other countries in conflict, there is no vaccum here. You have a strong party and should build a national army. We shall have even more representative meetings in the future," he told the gathering that was attended by Egyptian Foreign minister Sameh Shukri and western diplomats.

He thanked South Sudan President Salva Kiir for inviting him to mediate in this conflict. "When this crisis came up, some people were saying Uganda is undesirable. It should not come here. But these are our neighbours. When things go wrong, refugees don't go to Brussels, they come to Uganda," he said.

Political parties

He said that in Africa, parties like the SPLM which are forward-looking must be supported. "Unlike the Western world, where society is horizontally stratified, in Africa we are dealing with pre-industrialist societies with vertical interests."

"Some of these parties like SPLM say although society is vertically separated, the future belongs to nationalism and Pan-Africanism. They have futuristic ideas."

He advised that "A good party therefore must have a healthy political ideology, which creates a followership. Thereafter, you must resolve the question of interests against identity. What is more important? The SPLM should address this."

He reminded delegates that Congo in 1960 had Patrice Lumumba whose party was forward-looking. "The Western countries came in and killed Lumumba that he was Communist. They got rid of him because he was not a puppet. They then put a puppet leader. Since then, the UN is in Congo."

Kiir reaches out to Machar's team

Kiir called out to his political opponents to join the peace process. "I am still calling on my comrades who are outside the country to return."

"Leaders will come and go, but the vision of the SPLM shall live on to transform the country into a world player. In the spirit of unity, I want to assure all of you that our unity remains my priority that shall guide our actions moving forward, " Kiir said.

"There are those who say you should support me to unite our party [but] its not me alone. All of you are leaders. We have to strive all of us to put back our party."

He said the SPLM has no history of writing off its dissenting members. "It always finds a way of bring them into the fold. The SPLM is the glue that keeps this country together. If we allow the SPLM to falter, history will never forgive us."

Kiir also promised changes to improve the economy, which he said was important driver for peace efforts. "Our economy will surely improve. I have instructed the Minister of Finance to ensure that civil servants get their salaries on time."

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