Opinion: After playing spoiler in the South Sudan conflict, Museveni shows up to enjoy the spoils
For most of the time he has ruled us, we know President Museveni really is an endless source of comedy. Of course, those that usually suffer the consequences of his dangerous games will not be laughing.
So, we are told, Museveni is going to save the South Sudan talks. But scratch a little bit below the surface and you will see the fellow’s dangerous meddling in South Sudan’s affairs.
When fighting erupted in Juba a few years ago, most sensible people in Uganda tried to warn him against fueling that conflict through his cowboy diplomacy.
Only Museveni believed he could be a neutral arbiter of a conflict to which he had been part of the cause.
Museveni likes to patronize and once someone, including his colleagues, refuse to be patronised a serious problem arises.
In the lead up to independence in South Sudan, it became clear to Museveni that once Garang was president, he wouldn’t be able to exercise the kind of leverage and control he had has over him during the decade-long civil war. And so, Museveni decided to prevent the problem by eliminating it. A dead Garang would at the very least divide the SPLM and prolong Museveni’s control over matters in that country. Even his decision to take sides in the conflict was intended to prolong.
However, even if Museveni hadn’t necessarily taken sides in this particular conflict, the very idea that Museveni would be an impartial intermediary in any conflict truly is a sick joke.
This is a man who talks peace during the day and plays spoiler during the night.
South Sudanese have had to suffer as a result of this. Thousands have been killed and others fled mostly to our country.
Sadly, the people of Burundi are also learning the same hard lessons of “Museveni the peacemaker.”
When Burundian leader Pierre Nkurunziza illegally announced he was staying in power, it led to widespread protests in 2015. The violence left more than a couple of thousand dead, hundreds of thousands fleeing across the borders, thousands internally displaced and a ruined economy.
The East African Community tried to do something, but then made the bad mistake of appointing President Yoweri Museveni mediator – supposedly to bring together all the opposing parties in Burundi to find a peaceful resolution.
In fact, Nkurunziza must have said God himself had answered his prayers. Museveni was squarely on his side as the man went about his reign of terror, subduing Burundian civilians with the brutality of police repression, Imbonerakure militias, and the open terror of murders, disappearances and mass graves.
What did Museveni do in all that? He turned a blind eye. He did not for once reprimand Nkurunziza. On the contrary, Museveni’s acts – together with those of Benjamin Mkapa, former Tanzanian leader and appointed “facilitator” of the supposed peace process – legitimized Nkurunziza like he was the lawful head of state.
They treated the Burundi opposition as if they merely were a nuisance that should keep quiet. Talk to any Burundian citizen in exile in Uganda (or anywhere in the region) and they will tell you Nkurunziza has been a calamity for them. But Museveni has been a close second.
Any poor Burundian exile has very bitter opinions about President Museveni, especially because they believe they had cornered Nkurunziza. And then Museveni showed up.
Just as he has shown up last minute to take credit for what others have done after messing up South Sudan, Museveni will do the same once Burundians have found a way forward.