Friday, November 18, 2005

Museveni: The Next African Mugabe?




The once respected freedom fighter President Robert Mugabe did it in 2002 to Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, now Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda is doing it to his main challenger, Colonel (retired) Dr. Kizza Besigye. The arrest of Besigye in Kampala on Monday on questionable charges of treason and rape puts almost 20 years of progress and stability in Uganda under question. Besigye had just returned to Uganda from exile in South Africa in preparation for the March 2006 presidential elections.

What makes this latest African spectacle such a tragedy is that Uganda seemed to be a potential African success story. Uganda was once synonymous with violence, chaos and Idi Amin Dada’s predilections for human flesh. But since 1986 when Museveni and his rag-tag band of guerrilla fighters took over Kampala, there was hope. Museveni promised to bring political stability, economic growth, and good political leadership to Uganda. And he did for many years.

He introduced grassroots participation through Local Councils and a “no-party” political system. Past instability in Uganda was linked to politicized ethnicity argued Museveni, so if Ugandans could focus on the individual merits of candidates rather than their political party or ethnic, religious or regional affiliation, Ugandans might be able to focus on their similarities rather than their differences. Ugandans, fearful of a return to chaos, agreed to give it a try.

In June 2005 Ugandans voted in a referendum to adopt a multiparty political system rather than retain the no-party political system of government they had for the past 19 years. Museveni was able to change the constitution to allow him to run for a third term in the March 2006 Presidential elections.

While Western governments and the donor community were uneasy about Museveni’s questionable dedication to multi-party democracy Museveni’s economic successes and embrace of macro-economic reform helped assuage some of those concerns. Uganda under Museveni had one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. It had opened up its markets to international investment, and was willing to implement stringent structural adjustment programs. Museveni became a poster child of economic reform, receiving millions of dollars in foreign aid, and 100 percent debt relief from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

Museveni was viewed as a new breed of African leader – a visionary -- one of the African Renaissance leaders. He was intelligent, savvy, beyond corruption (although it was doubtful that those surrounding him were) and dedicated to his people.

Of course, not everything has been so encouraging in Uganda. The Ugandan army has been fighting a northern insurgency since 1986, currently led by Joseph Kony, the fanatical leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Uganda’s imagine was tarnished by its military involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And, most disturbingly, Human Rights Watch, an internationally respected non-governmental organization, published a 76 page report documenting widespread torture of political opposition members in Uganda.

So, what happened? How did the “darling of the West” start sliding down the slippery slope of authoritarianism? Did power simply become too intoxicating? Museveni and his supporters became convinced that no one could run Uganda as well as he could. A familiar argument made by many former self-appointed “Presidents for life”. Museveni is not an anomaly: The number of African leaders that have peacefully stepped down from power can be counted on one hand: Jerry Rawlings in Ghana, Julius Nyerere in Tanzania, Daniel Arap Moi in Kenya, and of course Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

Unless Museveni allows Besigye to run for President and lets the democratic process and rule of law determine who should be Uganda’s next president, Uganda may join the ranks of some of the current African trouble spots including, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Cote D’Ivoire, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

The international community must demand that Museveni uphold the rule of law in Uganda. Donors should cut off aid to the Museveni regime, and the African Union should strongly rebuke Museveni. But most importantly, Ugandans must peacefully demand justice and democracy. The world is watching, and hoping desperately for another African success story in a country that Sir Winston Churchill once called the “Pearl of Africa”.

By Susan Dicklitch

Monday, November 14, 2005

Darfur: Whose Responsibility?

Darfur Sudan. Many Americans don't even know where that is. For many in Darfur, it is hell on earth. An estimated 2.6 million people have been effected by mass killings, torture, rape, the destruction of villages, theft and other human rights abuses. After the Holocaust the world said "never again". After the genocide in the former Yugoslavia, the world said "never again" And after Rwanda, the world said, "it depends". Well, I guess that's where the people of Darfur are. The United States has recognized that what is going on in Darfur is a genocide. It has been going on since February 2003. Why is it still going on? Two guest bloggers below, Nana K., and Thomas T., offer their views...


Sudan Is our Problem
By Nana K. (Okomfo Anokye)

Sudan an Eastern African country gained its independence in 1956. War has raged in Sudan for at least 38 out of its 49 years of independence. The most recent round of fighting has been going on since 1989. Since February 2003, the war has assumed a new dimension. In Darfur, a region of Western Sudan, over 180,000 people have been killed and over 1.8million people have been displaced (http://amnesty.org/). What is going on in Sudan today is a modern-day form of genocide. The government in Khartoum, Sudan is supporting the oppression and the killing of Sudanese nationals in order to maintain its reign. The global community with America as a hegemony has done nothing to help end the crisis.
A casual observer might ask the following questions. Who cares about some war in Africa? Has America not involved itself in too many conflicts? Are our soldiers not being killed overseas? As we live in constant danger of terrorism, should we not worry about our own welfare first? Engaging in foreign wars is killing our economy? If those “primitive” Africans are stupid to fight among themselves and killing each other, is that our problem?
Despite these concerns and fears and contrary to what we want to believe, Darfur is our problem. The critics will say “that is the most ridiculous thing we have ever heard”. Unfortunately it is not a ridiculous assertion. Darfur is our problem because we have a social-moral obligation under the Geneva Convention, through our US foreign policy we have supported and funded the warring factions, and our socio-economic well-being at risk.
The United States is a signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention therefore; the US has a moral responsibility to fight against all acts of genocide. In Article 1 of the convention, it states clearly that genocide is a crime under international law and that all signatories will prevent and punish it.1 Clearly, under the convention, we are obligated to put an end to any inhumane acts regardless of the racial or ethnic identities of the group being oppressed. Under the 1949 Geneva Convention Common, Articles 3 and 147, all governments of the world are obliged to bring to book any perpetuators of inhuman treatment.2 The United States and the World as a whole have failed to live up to our responsibilities to safe-guard the rights of the people of Darfur.
So what? Who cares? Are we the only ones who have failed? Why does the world want to pin the problem of Darfur on the United States?
The US regretful to say has played a much larger role in maintaining and sustaining the genocide. The US government has indirectly funded the Khartoum government’s war. Between 1998 and 1999, the United States gave the Sudanese government $42 million in development assistance.3 In 2001, the United States also gave Sudan $27 million dollars in aid.4 No matter how altruistic the US government’s intention was, it is a widely accepted fact that that foreign aid is not always used for its intended purposes.
So why did we and do we still give Sudan aid? Well, one of the reasons is that Sudan is our ally against terrorism. In 1996, Sudan expelled Osama Bin Laden and they even wanted to hand him over to the Clinton administration, but we declined because of lack of indictable evidence.5 In President’s Bush’s September 20th speech, he was quoted as saying “Terrorists want to overthrow exiting governments in Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia.etc. They want to drive out Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa. America therefore should support its allies with security assistance”. 6 Aside from funding the government, the US has been supporting the other rebel movements in the south icluding the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLM). The United States package to help the SPLM can be found in the House of Representatives legislature known as the Sudan Peace Act. Under the Legislature, the US government pledges to provide $10 million dollars in assistance to Sudanese opposition forces.7 The Christian Right is also placing tremendous pressure on the US government to support Christian groups like the SPLM/SPLA that are being threatened by Islam.8 Supporting the opposition will not stop the war, it will rather give them less incentive to end their armed struggled. Moreover, the SPLM soldiers are not saints, they have committed atrocities in Sudan including killing, looting and raping. Instead of curtailing the war, the United States is feeding it.
Though the problem in Darfur is geographically isolated from the United States, the effect that the repercussions of the war has on the US is greater than we want to accept. The United States imports approximately 17% of its from sub-Saharan Africa.9 Due to the crisis in the Middle East, the United States is focusing on Africa as its primary source of its oil. The Sudanese oil fields pump out at least $500 million a year. According to recent media reports Sudan will soon raise its oil output to 500,000 barrels per day.10 Since the US economy is negatively affected by oil shocks, it is in the best interest to stabilize its oil sources including Sudan to prevent any further mishaps to the fragile economy.
The refugees running from Sudan are also becoming burdens to the countries in which they are seeking asylum. These countries that have young developing economies like Ghana cannot sustain the pressure being induced upon them by the refuges. If these young economies are not safeguarded, they will collapse and the countries will be back begging at the feet of America.
In terms of terrorism, the Khartoum government is putting the whole world at risk. It is inculcating into the minds of young Sudanese that the war in Darfur is a holy war against the infidels. The government is therefore brainwashing these kids to join an unfounded Jihad. When the war in Sudan comes to an end what is our assurance that these brainwashed kids would not traverse the globe to implement their unfounded Jihad of the sword.
Contrary to what many politicians and social commentators would like you to believe Darfur is indeed an American problem. The United Sates can no longer afford to be apathetic or passive about what is going on in Western Sudan. We have meddled too much in Sudanese politics to extent that we cannot just pack up and leave. In concert with the global community we must work to find a long-lasting solution to the crisis.

Notes:
1The United Nations Text of Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
2 The Geneva Convention of 1949.
3Aid at a Glance for Recipient Countries and Territories Index of Charts “The Development Assistance Committee (DAC), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED) Aid recipient chart.
4 US Agency for International Development.
5 Sudan’s Perfect War by Randolph Martin http: //www.foreignaffairs.org.
6 Stop Subsidizing Terrorism by Brett Schaefer http://
www.heritage.org.
7 Sudan’s Perfect War by Randolph Martin http;//www.foreignaffairs.org.
8The Christian Right and American Foreign Policy by William Martin, Sudan’s Perfect War by Randolph Martin http;//www.foreignaffairs.org.
9Africa’s Oil Boom and the Poor by Ian Gray.
10Sudan to Raise Oil Output to 500,000 :-the New Vision.


Genocide IS Our Problem
By Thomas T.
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide calls genocide “a crime under international law which [member countries] undertake to prevent and to punish.”[1] Because the United States has committed to preventing and stopping genocide by joining this Convention, it must act when it recognizes that genocide is occurring. The United States has made a promise to the world. In 1994, a 100-day genocide in Rwanda cost the lives of more than 800,000 people, as the world sat idly by. The international community had blood on its hands, and we resolved to prevent it from happening again. It’s happening again in Darfur. Because Secretary of State Colin Powell and President Bush have labeled the actions in Darfur as genocide,[2] we are legally entitled and morally obligated to do something to stop it. If we break these promises, we will be partially responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.
In order to understand why we have been weak in stopping the genocide, we must understand the government’s reason for non-intervention. The United States government believes it has strategic interest to not intervene with the genocide in Darfur, because it fears losing an ally in the War on Terror.
[3] The administration continues to believe that another ally is more important than innocent peoples’ lives.
Now call me old fashioned, but I still believe that the strategic interest with Sudan cannot justify any inaction in the prevention of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people a year. While we must work to make sure that Sudan continues to help us on the War on Terror, we cannot simply ignore the genocide in order to do so. If we choose to ignore the plight of the Darfuri people because of our interests, we would be condemning the Darfuris to a world of pain and death. We would be assisting in the rape and murder of innocent civilians. And how again are we supposed to be morally superior to Al Qaeda?
The violence is not over, and the killings will not stop without international dedication. Just last week there were reports of 1,500 men attacking six villages in Darfur. Two million people still cannot or have not returned to their homes due to the fear of continued attacks.
[4] The Darfuri people live in terror, and we cannot abandon them. Morally, how could it even be possible that we even consider breaking our promise to stop the violence that continues to occur to the Darfuris like we did to the Rwandans?
Some opponents to intervention legitimately argue that we do not want to send any more American troops to any more conflicts. Now, I agree that because of our country’s current situation, we do not want to lose any more American troops than we have already. Sending in Americans would likely cause more problems than it would solve, especially because the Arab World would likely describe the American intervention as another imperialist attack on a Muslim country (while ignoring the fact that the Darfur refugees are mostly Muslim). The African Union, however, has been willing to do the job. African countries have decided to send their own troops to stabilize the country, but they lack the resources to do their job to the best of their ability. Even though they have insufficient numbers, are inadequately equipped, and suffer from a weak mandate, they have been reasonably successful in deterring theft, rape, and other types of violence by their presence.
[5] While attacks like the ones last week still occur, they have decreased in frequency (but are still at high enough levels to terrify refugees). Imagine, though, what the African Union could do if they had the resources that they needed.
The United States can easily provide the African Union soldiers with what they need, without ruining its relations with the Sudanese government. In fact, the United States and the international community have been calling for more action and larger numbers from the African Union. An international call against Sudan has already been made, and all we would be doing is putting our money where our mouth is. This would not likely harm relations between Washington and Khartoum intolerably.
By helping fund the peacekeepers at a cost of less than three hundred million dollars a year (a miniscule amount when compared to other United States government projects), the United States could help the African Union have phones in its offices, fuel for its vehicles, and money to pay the salaries of its soldiers.
[6][7] In the words of an AU official, “The international community, UN, European Union and NATO can't ask us to increase our force in Darfur and then not come up with the money.”[8] We have the means to cutting down and ending the violence. We do not need to use our own soldiers, but rather to monetarily support those that are already there. How could we morally refuse do this? There is no reasonable excuse. We already have Rwandan blood on our hands. Do we really want to add Darfuri blood to the mix?


[1] “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” <http://www.law-ref.org/GENOCIDE/index.html> Nov. 11, 2005
[2] “Powell Calls Sudan Killings Genocide” Sept. 9, 2004 <http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/africa/09/09/sudan.powell/> Nov. 11, 2005
[3] Ooldenberg, Susan. “Sudan Becomes US Ally in ‘War on Terror’” April 30, 2005 <http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1473788,00.html> Nov. 11, 2005
[4] “Sudan: Killings Reported in South Darfur, says UN” Nov. 11, 2005 <http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/b2ceb1ad579a9759febf5e197941f268.htm> Nov. 11, 2005
[5] O’Neill, William G. and Cassis, Violette. “Protecting Two Million Internally Displaced: The Successes and Shortcomings of the African Union in Darfur” The Brookings Institution. <http://www.brookings.edu/fp/projects/idp/200511_au_darfur.pdf> Nov. 11, 2005.
[6] Blog entry from an aid worker in Darfur. July 27, 2005. <http://sleeplessinsudan.blogspot.com/2005/07/its-back-to-khartoum-this-morning-and.html> Nov. 11, 2005.
[7] “SUDAN: African Union short of funds for Darfur mission” Aug. 18, 2005. <http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=48634> Nov. 11, 2005.
[8] “SUDAN: African Union short of funds for Darfur mission” Aug. 18, 2005. <http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=48634> Nov. 11, 2005.