President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has castigated soldiers who take over the government by force for going against the decision of the African Union that outlawed coups d’etat.
In a 15-page statement about coups that have taken place in Africa; the most recent being in Guinea where soldiers toppled President Alpha Conde, Museveni wondered about the ideological stand of these soldiers and whether they understand the aims of the African freedom fighters that caused the formation of revolutionary parties like the African National Congress.
“It is this African Union that has outlawed coups; who, then, are you to make a coup against the decision of the AU?” Museveni asks. “Whose interest are you serving? Besides, I was amazed and amused by the arrogance of these people. When summoning former government ministers etc, one of them said that if anybody summoned does not come, he/she will be regarded as having declared rebellion! Really! Especially for the politicians, they have a right and even an obligation to say: “No”, to whatever they don’t agree with. Saying “No”, includes not attending meetings called. It is a peaceful way of showing one’s unhappiness. It is up to the organizer to come and see why I did not come to the called meeting so that, if he can, he addresses and cures the grievance. To declare that peacefully abstaining from a meeting is rebellion shows that you may be a fascist.”
The President who has ruled Uganda for the last 36 years since he first took power after a five-year armed struggle also wondered about the ideology and aim of the coup plotters. He wished the coup plotters had espoused the same ideology like African freedom fighters such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Sekou Toure among others.
“I certainly do not know the ideological position of the Coup-makers,” Museveni said. “There are, however, clues that show that they may not be part of the freedom fighters…Who is Alpha Conde, Who is Keita of Mali, ideologically? Certainly, the few times I interacted with Professor Conde, he belongs to the tradition of African freedom fighters; he told me that he supported the federation of West Africa that would utilize the Mandingo, Fulani and other cross-border communities, to build such a political union, in addition to economic integration. Of course, we do not know much about the internal politics of Guinea. Nevertheless, even when you have other differences, it should not eclipse the big aims you share. This is what we always believe and do,” Museveni said.
The president added that he would not have any problem with any group, even those who he doesn’t share a political ideology to get to power provided they are elected.
“Elections means one person, one vote, by secret ballot, at regular intervals,” he said. “This is the minimum they all have set and it is a good one. If people who do not share our views win the elections, provided they do not engage in extra–judicial killings, we should accept their leadership and struggle against their wrong positions peacefully.
“The position of one person, one vote, by secret ballot, at regular intervals, is a good minimum position because it addresses the substance of democracy, which means the continuous and perpetual supremacy of the sovereignty of the people. Nobody has a right to interfere with this.”
In less than a year, three countries in West Africa have had their presidents toppled by the military. Other than Guinea, soldiers in Mali overthrew the government of President Ibrahim Abubaker Keita and in Chad, President Idris Deby was allegedly shot and killed while fighting rebels. However, media sources in Chad said this might have been an internal job by government soldiers to topple a man who had superintended over one of the poorest countries in Africa for 30 years