What to make of Museveni’s criticism of the West over Libya

23 Mar

By Stephen Twinoburyo

When reading President Yoweri Museveni’s 6-page statement regarding the bombing of Libya by allied forces, I never stopped marvelling at the double-standards, contradictions and seeming sense of panic ( Museveni can be planted in Gaddafi’s position and he matches the picture. There is little to separate the two men, whether in ambition, mode of leadership, self-importance, arrogance, selfishness or unfortunate choice of words. The whole statement is the case of the kettle calling the pot black. I doubt the west will read this statement and lose sleep. I am not bothered myself.

I will tackle the different points as he raises them:

  • I agree Gaddafi’s support of Amin was wrong. Also his support of Museveni, telling him that revolutionaries never retire and Museveni looking on approvingly and seemingly heeding the call, even though the term revolutionary is self-dressed for both men, was equally bad.

I quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s statement on Libya last week: “The scenes of brutality being meted out with sophisticated weaponry by Libyan security forces against their own civilian population make God weep. With every blow they strike, each human rights abuse they perpetrate, they bring shame on Africa. If Africa’s leaders held their peers to account there would be no need for the people of Libya to suffer human rights violations. And there would be no need for United Nations sanctioned military interventions in Libya Instead, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has for more than 40 years honed his skills in the art of resource management to win friends and influence people. And as a result, Africa seems powerless to stop him..” . The archbishop added that the international community must act to protect the people of Libya. I find that Museveni falls in the part of ‘resource management’ that Archbishop Tutu talks about. He’s now able to afford some criticism of Gaddafi because Gaddafi is on the rocks.


  • Museveni says in the AU, Gaddafi used to talk to other leaders like he was talking to kindergarten children. This really makes me laugh. Let Museveni replay his speeches and listen to how he addresses other people. One of the reasons he is disliked is because of the way he addresses and treats other Ugandans. He seems to take Uganda as his own house and all his addresses have been full of orders. Museveni does not seem to have the word request in his vocabulary. For more on this, scroll down on this blog and read the article “Why is Uganda run like a spaza shop?”
  • Museveni accuses Gaddafi of overruling other leaders in the AU but Museveni himself is the king of overruling technocrats and his ministers to institute his own thinking, and as a result he has rendered useless  all institutional processes in Uganda.
  • Museveni accuses Gaddafi of involving himself in the internal matters of other countries. Apart from Tanzania, there is none of Uganda’s neighbours that Museveni hasn’t involved himself in. Courtesy of his self-interest incursion in DRC, Uganda has a huge bill to pay and the lives of countless Congolese people were lost or wrecked irreparably. The scars will linger for generations.
  • As Museveni accuses Gaddafi of not differentiating between military and civilian targets, he forgets that his own soldiers have fired on and killed unarmed civilians during civil activities and no action has been taken. Museveni himself has used language to encourage or warn of such actions by his soldiers. Recently when asked on Al-Jazeera why his soldiers fired on civilians in a market in Mogadishu he replied by asking why the insurgents had hidden themselves among civilians. Museveni also forgets that during his bush war, he planted landmines on civilian roads and recruited underage children in his rebel army.
  • Museveni says the west hates independent-thinking leaders and instead prefers puppets. What I think are dictators are what Museveni refers to as independent-minded thinkers or nationalists. Museveni and Gaddafi fall in this category and if there is one person that is used at will by the west and ‘brief-case’ foreign investors, I think it’s Museveni. Museveni has been in power this long largely due to the support of the west. Of course now he is beginning to behave expectedly like Mugabe, Gbagbo or Gaddafi that he sees that the west are no longer excited about non-retiring  leaders and cosmetic democracy. African leaders are good at criticising governments in the west but are very quiet about excesses of their own African peers. Museveni should remember that in the 25 years he has been president, America now has the fourth president. In that time undoubtedly foreign policy changes and subsequent leaders have different views on foreign leaders. I don’t think Obama is interested in promoting African autocracy in exchange for interests. Soon or later, Museveni too will be discarded and I think he is aware of this.
  • Yes Nyerere, Nkrumah and others he mentioned were nationalists. Museveni and Gaddafi are not. In fact Gaddafi may have some nationalism but this gets lost in his self-aggrandisement. There is purely nothing about Museveni to show nationalism. And yes Gaddafi transformed his country using oil resources. But if in the 41 years he’s been in power, he has allowed transitions producing 5 other leaders, maybe Libya would be far ahead. We used to be fed this lie that everybody in Libya is given a free modern house on turning into an adult. Now we are seeing slums on Al-Jazeera. We used to be told that everybody in Libya loves Gaddfi as their god and he himself claims people love him but in a matter of two weeks, ordinary citizens had taken over more than 90% of the country until he employed his murderous ways against his own people.
  • I find Museveni’s analysis of pre-Gaddafi-era oil price viz-a-viz western development very simplistic. Western countries have developed simply because they have worked hard. Countries in the far east too have developed greatly in the last 40 years.
  • On Gaddafi’s positive points, Museveni talks of the good roads he sees when flying over Libya. I wish he could say the same of Uganda, the country he has ruled for 25 years. That makes the difference between him and the other leaders that have truly worked for their countries. Can he please tell us what he sees when he flies over Uganda?
  • Museveni talks of peaceful demonstarions but these are not allowed in his own country. True, in all countries where they take place, they are coordinated with police permission and supervision. In Uganda’s case, Museveni himself declared recently that he won’t allow demonstrations to take place. Though I was particularly not excited about the groups that were organising these demonstrations, the people nevertheless had the right to hold them. Museveni’s periodic window-dressing exercise of elections hardly makes his regime more legitimate than that of Gaddafi or Mubbarak. If a person like Gaddafi or Museveni decides to sit on a population indefinitely doesn’t  it then make the case for foreign intervention justifiable? Why is Museveni finding fault with the no-fly zone over Libya? Gaddafi himself invited that no-fly zone when he started using his military planes over his own people. It should be remembered that it’s Libyans themselves that rose up against Gaddafi, not the western powers. The western powers have simply taken on the moral obligation to defend the Libyans that Gaddafi had promised to decimate. If Africans leaders treat countries like their bedrooms, let them be crushed mercilessly.
  • Museveni says Gaddafi should sit down and negotiate with the opposition. Let Museveni show this example in his own country.

The time for African despots to use criticism of the west to suppress their people and loot their countries is way over. Gaddafi’s achievements are not an excuse for the way he treats his people. True there are double standards. Some of these western concerns are coupled with their interests. For instance, nothing has ever been done about Myanmar. However, we are glad when we are one despot less. Even Uganda was driven by their self-interest in their incursion into DRC. Even right now, Museveni is defending Gaddafi out of self-interest. It is expected that interests will greatly determine America’s engagement. In fact now that Museveni is stepping on oil, his ground has become more slippery. If American interests can help rid us of dictators and non-ending rulers, I am glad.

It is possible Libya may be engulfed in post-Gaddafi confusion but this is expected where despots have wielded absolute control without regard for institutionalised leadership. Of course blame number one for the confusion that will engulf Libya falls squarely on the shoulders of Gaddafi and stale African leaders. Where strongmen have held absolute power without regard for other citizens, it’s inevitable that confusion will follow them. It happened in Uganda after Amin and the resulting confusion is what brought Museveni to power. Amin was removed by Tanzanians and we don’t regret that action. Gaddafi too needs to go at all costs whatever the consequences. Libya will eventually stabilise. Even that oil he’s promising to offer to friendly countries will go nowhere. Gaddafi’s defenders, including Museveni, say that the west is driven by oil. If oil is the fuel that smokes him out, so be it!


Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs


10 responses to “What to make of Museveni’s criticism of the West over Libya

  1. Godfrey

    March 23, 2011 at 06:33

    @Stephen. As I mentioned on your page, I agree with your analysis and it reveals the ‘multiple personality’ that is Museveni. He is a contradiction.

    Just a thought occurred to me, at some point we need to discuss if the concept of Pan Africanism is dead. There have been posts that have derided the concept of “African Solutions” including some of mine, though my posts have maintained the position that though ‘African Solutions to African Problems’ may be appropriate, more analysis needs to be done in generation of governance models that fit the social, economic, and political context of the different nations in Africa.

    This means that there is no one single African model of governance, but many models of governance unique to the different contexts. As such, I have also argued that Uganda has a unique social and political context that requires a generation of political systems that work for Uganda. This has flown right in the face of the typical though pattern that advocates for the western style democratic systems as a fit all for all situations in Uganda.

    What I agree with you, from previous posts, is that, whatever system of governance, the human rights and respect for citizens needs to be incorporated. So a democratic system without catering for the needs of the citizens is as horrible as a model of governance that doesn’t permit one man-one vote and doesn’t respect its citizens and provide for their medical, educational needs.

    At least, I know that the School of Business Leadership, UNISA, SA has been conducting research on African Models of Leadership, starting with the concept of Ubuntu. What I am saying is that this should be encouraged so that political parties can be based on researched ideology, at the very least. Thus, the strength on my conviction that political scientists can be engaged in African Universities, funded by political organizations, to propose different governance models that can work.

    I still am not a proponent of one man one vote as a governance concept for all. In the present economic structure in Uganda, Museveni has benefited from the illiteracy and dire economic situation of the peasants. Therefore their vote is for sale, and until this situation changes, the one man one vote is not an ideological representation of the masses. And as one sees, because M7 had the billions, he got the votes, whilst some MP’s didn’t get far because of the cash limitations

  2. Twino Speaks

    March 23, 2011 at 06:53

    Thanks Godfrey. Good analysis!

  3. Martin

    March 23, 2011 at 07:10

    Another good analysis Steve. As I read it, I wondered how your insights could be disseminated to more Ugandans. Our country needs a critical mass of people who can look at issues objectively. Without this critical mass, me and you with all our good ideas (of course subject to correction) will have limited influence on political dynamics of Uganda.

    Museveni’s comments on Gaddafi are not suprising. Although he does not like Gaddafi and he could enumerate so many of his shortcoming, when it comes to his removal from power the two are allies. These new breed of African leaders seem to be obsessed with being the only ones with a vision for their country. On one hand they abuse and exploit their citizen and on the other they claim they derive their legitimacy from the citizen.

    The same Gaddafi who was calling Libyans opposing him rats and drug addicts who he will show no mercy, he now calling them his best air defence. What an irony. It mirrors the situation in Uganda where a president who is loved by the majority of people (more than 60% from elections) has to keep his soldiers on street, armed to the teeth, for him to govern the same people in peace.

    On an unserious note, if an agricultural country has more new guns than, hoes; new armoured vehicles, than tractors; and the army has more mobile trucks than farmer’s unions, no one should sleep easy.

  4. Robert Musngu

    March 23, 2011 at 07:46

    Lets apply civil disobedience by David Henry Thoreau, it is a high time.

  5. Twino Speaks

    March 23, 2011 at 08:00

    You are spot on Martin and I can’t agree more.

  6. Patrick Muwanga

    March 24, 2011 at 11:17

    Stephen, I must say that your analysis is very precise. Sadly every one worth their civic read already knew of the contradictory nature of Mr. Kaguta. The people that need this message are the peasants from whom Mr. Kaguta claims to derive mandate.

    Godfrey’s opposition to the one man one vote is the solution to the problem of governance in Uganda and the requirement to realise the critical mass of people who can look at issues objectively, as Martin so eloquently put it. I shall state it more boldly, “Everything that the peasant in Uganda stands for goes against the agenda for us as a society to advance. Until we marshal our resources to diminish the advantage of their numbers, we can not pretend to derive from good governance the incentive or initiative to develop.” To this effect I propose the lobby for an optional annual civic duty that clearly exempts defaulters and those that opt not to pay it from voting. This way we hold both parties in the electoral process accountable and focused on more fundamental civic issues. Think on it.

  7. Twino Speaks

    March 24, 2011 at 22:00

    ‎”It is now much clearer that it is only revolutionary changes in Africa that will bring into being the kind of political/diplomatic and military force that can give meaning to the Constitutive Act of the African Union. For a short period after the end of apartheid, Nelson Mandela shamed the leaders of the OAU into dropping the clause of the ‘non interference in the internal affairs of member states.’ Yet, after the experiences of the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cote d’Ivoire, it became clearer that the present leadership stand as obstacle to fighting crimes against humanity. As the leadership of the ANC embraced neo-liberal capitalism and entered into business deals with leaders such as Robert Mugabe and Laurent Gbagbo, South Africa lost the moral authority to galvanize forces who wanted peace and reconstruction in Africa.

    We can see from Ivory Coast and Libya that many African leaders look the other way because condemning such crimes amounts to self-indictment since most of them are involved in similar crimes in their bid to either perpetuate themselves in power or enrich themselves. That the current leaders of Africa could support the elevation of Teodoro Obiang Nguema to be the chairperson of this organisation pointed to the fact that most of these leaders such as Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Republic of Congo, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan , Paul Biya of Cameroon, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Ali Bongo of Gabon, King Mswati III of Swaziland, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia are not serious about translating the letters of the Constitutive Act into reality. These leaders oversee societies where there is repression of the people’s aspirations to end decades of oppression and dictatorship.

    The majority of the current leaders of the African Union have used their greed and insatiable hunger for political power to cause a devastating impediment to the AU’s ability effectively assert itself, whether in Ivory Coast or in Libya. Apart from leaders such as Museveni who have come out lately with disharmonious rhetoric in response to the situation in Libya, there is yet another group. These are the leaders who have maintained a high degree of audible silence about the situation. Among these two categories of African leaders, there are those who are cautious either because they too operate repressive governments or because they have benefitted from Gaddafi’s largesse in his failed bid to become Africa’s ‘king of kings’ or both. Gaddafi’s quest for power and his bid to become king of kings in Africa must be condemned for what it is: a backward thinking that was meant to entrench a crude subjugation and suppression of the African peoples, while posing to be anti-imperialist. When Gaddafi rallied the Mugabes and the Omar al-Bashirs of the continent, telling them that revolutionaries never quit power, true Pan-Africanists stood in opposition to this crude machination.” – Horace Campbell.

  8. Twino Speaks

    March 24, 2011 at 22:02

    “It is strange that Americans hate their presidents so much that they will not let them rule for more than eight years. Perhaps that is why the American leaders envied Gaddafi’s unassailable popularity among his citizens…” Munini K Mulera.

    I wonder what Mandela was up to, to give up presidency after only 5 years at the helm! He would still be president 17 years into democracy. Then there is Mbeki that succumbed to a mere party without a fight. Where in strong Africa have you heard of a mere party removing a president?

  9. John Byaruhanga

    March 25, 2011 at 21:47

    Museveni time will come and his will be worst than Gadaffi, Ugandans are documenting each and every evil that Museveni and his stooges are doing, from shoddy deals to foreign Bank accounts and properties world wide. Museveni cant bluff us by criticising Gadaffi, before the uprising, Musevenis tail was solidly stucked in between his legs with fear. Infact, Museveni even spent billions of Tax payers money to lavish himself with a private jet for the fear that Gadaffi was plotting to shot him mid air.
    Musevenis days are numbered, infact at the moment he licking American backside by sending our boys in Somali to be butchered just for him to stay in power on the pretext that they are fighting terrorist, what a balderdash.
    The world has become a global village unlike 1986 when he shot himself to power. He should watch this space. If not, we will watch it for him and drag him to court if he is lucky, that is.

  10. loveugandathepearlofafrica

    August 29, 2011 at 08:39

    Stephen, I love your analysis and I agree with everything you say. BUT, the western interests are not for the Libyan people or for that matter Africans! Look at Iraq, they got rid of Saddam (very good) But they have plundered the poor country for their own enrichment, not the Iraqi people! The Iraqi people are poorer than before and more insecure.

    The west read, UN, read, Obama, Sakozi, Angela, Cameroon) are thieves and they are there to steal, robe and plunder Libya! I agree that Africans must take care of their own problems and we must rise up and get rid of dictators. BUT since when did the UN support a “rebel” group in a sovereign country? I have lots of questions but for lack of time I will ask the “UN” to please NOW go save Myanmar, Syria (Assad has massacred more people than Gaddafi), go save Iran, go save Bahrain. Show us that you are not in Libya to plunder their resources!! Lets see you acting fairly for the good of the world not for the good of Europe and America!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: