Uganda yesterday urged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to capitulate to demands for greater democratic reforms, including subjecting himself to elections, and halt civilian killings in the uprising consuming his country.
“He should not kill his people,” Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa told this newspaper in an interview when asked what message Kampala is taking to Tripoli as President Museveni prepares to fly there tomorrow.
No foreign influence
He said the Libyan leader, in power since 1969, “ought to look at reforms and legitimate demands” of his people. He added: “But we do not accept foreign interference. We think that there should be an African solution to this (problem).”
The UN Security Council has already passed a resolution condemning the spiralling violence in Libya where government troops are alleged to be shooting indiscriminately and bombing rebel targets.
The world body is presently debating a UK-proposed no-fly zone over Libya weeks after several Western nations, including the US, froze finances and assets of Col. Gaddafi and his family. Russia, on the other hand, announced it had banned any dealings with the First Family.
Those adverse decisions notwithstanding, Mr Museveni, known to be a close ally of Col. Gaddafi, is among four Presidents, including South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, the African Union has mandated to explore a negotiated end to the Libyan crisis.
Presidents Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo), Amadou Toumani Touré (Mali) and Mauritania’s Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz are the other members of the AU team that Gaddafi has reportedly agreed to meet tomorrow.
Col. Gaddafi has used some of the proceeds from Libya’s vast oil deposits to generously fund AU and friendly governments around the continent, and previously supplied weapons to buoy NRA’s five-year guerilla war that brought Mr Museveni to power in 1986.
On one of the happier visits to Kampala, Col. Gaddafi suggested that President Museveni should not abdicate power because revolutionaries like them lead until the mission they have set out is achieved.
Minister Kutesa, however, said in tomorrow’s meeting, Uganda will try to impress it upon the Libyan leader that “it is revolutionary to be democratic”.
“(Being) a revolutionary, I think, you are trying to serve the larger interests of society and that includes people’s freedoms and wellbeing,” he said. “I don’t know whether anybody should say that being a revolutionary excludes being democratic. I don’t think so.”
Responding to a question whether Col. Gaddafi, who has ruled for 42 years, is part of the problem or solution for the North African country, Mr Kutesa said he could be both.
He said: “Because if he is still there and has not allowed reforms, then he is part of the problem. But if he can join the others and they make reforms, then he is part of the solution”.
The minister said in a full interview, which this newspaper is yet to publish, that Uganda has joined other AU member states in recognising opposition leader Alassane Ouattara as the legitimate winner of Ivory Coast’s November 2010 presidential vote, which incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has claimed.