KAMPALA- President Museveni has blamed the spiraling violence in South Sudan, which, has resulted in the death of hundreds and displacement of over a million people, on the country’s ‘sectaria’ leaders.
Deputy presidential spokesperson, Ms Lindah Nabusayi, in a statement quoted Mr Museveni as having told Ms Justin Greening, the UK Secretary for International Development in a meeting in London that the “South Sudan problem can be solved by regional leaders”.
“He (Museveni) regretted that South Sudan leaders have succumbed to sectarian ideology instead of fronting a united country, adding that he was talking to both leaders to ensure that peace prevails.”
“He explained that sectarianism is based on the failure by the leaders to understand that their tribal groups are inter-dependent on one another,” the statement read in part.
The South Sudan conflict began as a political power contest between President Salva Kiir and his former vice Riek Machar that in December snowballed into military clashes fought along Dinka-Nuer ethnic lines of Kiir and Machar, respectively.
The UPDF deployed, Mr Museveni said, on the request of the South Sudan government, in time to help save President Kiir from being toppled.
Both Museveni and Kiir have visited each other in Kampala and Juba, to find a lasting solution to the conflict that Inter-Governmental Authority on Development [Igad] is working hard to resolve.
Mr Museveni in London yesterday defended Uganda’s military’s continued presence in South Sudan, where he said UPDF restored “core stability”, saying it was not up to any country or the US to tell him where or not to deploy troops.
In an interview the BBC aired on Tuesday, President Museveni said the Nigerian government should not negotiate with Boko Haram because the militant group, which has about 230 school girls held in captive, is “ideologically bankrupt”.
The group last Sunday again abducted eight school girls, aged 12-15.
“If you are fighting the government, why do you abduct children?” he told the BBC in an interview.
“I think it will be a mistake to think that the government of Nigeria [should] negotiate with these people.”
Basing on Uganda’s experience of tackling the Joseph Kony-led Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group that for 19 years used terror and conscription to build its rank in northern Uganda, Mr Museveni said Boko Haram should first be defeated militarily.
He said: “You can use carrot-and-stick [approach] if you are dealing with somebody who has logic. What’s the programme of these people? ”
Boko Haram, literally translated, ‘western education forbidden’, is an Islamist group whose leader has in a video post threatened to sell the female students they kidnapped on April 14.
The group’s actions are “disgusting, immoral and vile”, the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said in London on Tuesday.
President Museveni made his first public comments on the group while on a three-day visit to the UK, charming wealthy British citizens to invest their money in Uganda.
Kiir, Machar to meet
South Sudan president Salva Kiir and his former deputy-turned military foe, Dr Riek Machar, are expected, under international pressure, to meet tomorrow for direct talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The UN and African Union separately confirmed the planned face-to-face talks, the first since troops loyal to the two principals clashed in Juba in December last year, sparking a civil war that humanitarian agencies, say had by end of March claimed hundreds of lives and displaced more than a million people.
“The special envoys (on South Sudan crisis) expect that this critical meeting will help end the violence and killings in South Sudan and provide the necessary impetus to the ongoing Igad-led mediation process,” Igad said in a statement on Tuesday. Ethiopian prime minister and Igad chairman Hailemariam Desalegn convened and will chair the talks, according to the statement.
The rival South Sudanese political honchos capitulated to direct dialogue after talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry during his Africa tour last week. The US on Tuesday, imposed sanctions on Maj Gen Marial Chanuong, the head of president Kiir’s elite republican guard and renegade SPLA general Peter Gadet who commands the Machar-led rebel group.