September 22, 2007 report by Felix Osike, Sunday Vision
MILITARY coups will no longer be tolerated in African countries, foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa has said. Uganda has had three military coups since independence in 1962.
The minister was on Friday delivering a paper titled “Africa’s Global Relevance and Uganda’s growing Role” at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House in London.
“There is a resolve to have and support democratically elected governments in the African Union. No longer will coups d’etat and military dictatorships be tolerated by the African Union,” Kutesa remarked.
Uganda has a history of coups and military dictatorships. The first coup was in 1971 when the army toppled a civilian government led by Milton Obote and installed its commander, Gen. Idi Amin as president. The second coup took place in 1980 when the Military Commission removed Godfrey Binaisa. And the third had coup-prone Obote overthrown a second time in 1985.
Kutesa stated that although Africa was faced with surmountable problems, wars were ending: “While two decades ago, you had many military dictatorships in many African countries. We now have stability.”
“Some of these struggles, therefore, like the ones we had in Uganda to get rid of Amin and LRA terrorists, could not be avoided. They have helped us attain the stability that we are now enjoying,” he added.
The foreign affairs minister, however, observed there was still a problem in Darfur, Sudan which will be sorted out with the involvement of the international community.
“We are also helping the leadership in Somalia to stabilise that country. The problem of Burundi is being resolved. An elected government is in place,” he said citing examples of change, “There is no more war in Angola, Mozambique, Southern Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the large part of Congo. South Africa was liberated in the early 90s and is a functioning democracy.”
He urged the international community to support the agreements Uganda signed with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Arusha, Tanzania on dealing with the negative forces in the DRC, joint oil exploration on Lake Albert and resolving the border conflict.
“We are negotiating with the Lord’s Resistance Army in Juba, Southern Sudan. We hope a comprehensive peace agreement will be signed in the near future. The stability created in Africa will promote democracy and observance of human rights.”
Kutesa argued that democracy was a process and not an event. “The process in Africa is on, and it is irreversible. The mistake some people in the West make is to judge the decades-old democracy in Africa against that of the West, which is Centuries old.