STATEMENT MADE BY
THE THIRD DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
AND MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC UGANDA,
HON. JAMES WAPAKHABULO
TO THE WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM, RACIAL
XENOPHOBIA AND RELATED INTOLERANCE,
IN EXERCISE OF THE RIGHT OF REPLY ON 4T" SEPTEMBER 2001.
Thank you Mr. President,
In his statement to this World Conference, the distinguished
Minister of the Sudan made a number of misrepresentations of the facts, with
respect to the conflict in the Sudan. I take the floor in order to clarify these
Firstly, the Honourable Minister of the Sudan alleged that the President of Uganda was part of the causes of the civil war in the Sudan. I would like to draw the attention of this conference to the fact that the civil war in Sudan began in 1956 while President Museveni was attending primary school in his home village. That civil war has been going on until today, with a break of 10 years between 1972 and 1982. The current President of Uganda could therefore not have caused the conflict and is not a credible scapegoat for the civil war.
The civil war in the Sudan has been going on for too long.
It has caused loss of life, destruction of property and immeasurable pain and
suffering. Africa and the global community need to pay more attention to it.
Its causes should not be explained away in terms of Uganda's alleged involvement.
The Honourable Minister of the Sudan claimed that the conflict in his country is a civil war and not a racial conflict. But he did not tell this conference the cause of this civil war. He did not point out that for several decades, the civil war has been raging between black Sudanese who live in the southern part of the country and Arab Sudanese who live in the north. It is difficult to avoid drawing the conclusion that racism is at the heart of this civil war.
Uganda's view is that we should acknowledge the truth about conflicts in our region because that is the only way we can find solutions to them. The civil war in the Sudan is the result of the attempt by the Sudanese ruling class to forcibly Islamize and arabize the black Christians in the southern part of the country. This policy of denying the cultural identity of a significant part of the population has inevitably provoked resistance and in our view, there will be no end to this war until the policy of cultural and religious hegemony is abandoned.
On several occasions Sudan has openly stated that it has supported Ugandan anti-government rebels, allegedly in retaliation for Uganda's support for SPLA. Yet when the Sudanese government first armed Ugandan rebels in 1986, the SPLA was nowhere near the Uganda / Sudan border. The SPLA was near the border of another of Sudan's neighbours hundreds of miles away. It is a well-known fact that successive Sudanese governments have been hostile to every regime in Uganda except that of General Idi Amin. It is not difficult to guess why Idi Amin would be Sudan's favourite choice for leading Uganda.
In 1994, President Bashir of the Sudan decided to form an unholy alliance with the late president Mobutu of Zaire for purposes of destabilizing Uganda. They formed this alliance in the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda when genocidaires, who had been defeated and crossed the border into former Zaire, were re-organized and re-armed by former president Mobutu. This unholy alliance between Mobutu and Bashir gave rise to the international conflict that eventually engulfed the whole of the Great Lakes Region.
The support extended by both Mobutu and Bashir enabled Ugandan dissidents under the name Allied Democratic Forces, to over run the western border town of Mpondwe and to massacre a large number of civilians. The same bandits later attacked Kichwamba Technical School where more than 80 students were burnt in their dormitories. This group, in alliance with Rwandan interahamwe subsequently attacked a tourist camp in the Bwindi national park and killed many foreign tourists in cold blood.
Another rebel group, more directly connected with the Sudan is the notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which has been operating from Sudanese territory. It is responsible for the Atiak massacres and the abduction, rape, forced conscription and murder of hundreds of children from northern Uganda. It is this group, which attacked the Aboke Girls' Secondary School, and abducted over 100 teenage girls who were subsequently turned into "wives" of the rebels. Many of these unfortunate girls are still living in captivity with their captors inside the Sudan.
It is proper that this conference should pay attention to the past and trace the historical origins of racism, intolerance and xenophobia. But it is even more important to recognize that some people are up to the present day victims of intolerance.
The instability, which we see in the Great Lakes Region today, has its origins in gross human rights violations, which were committed with impunity by dictators in several countries in the region. The present generation is a victim of the legacy of this mis-rule.
The current leaders have been working with other leaders from Africa and with the support of the international community to find solutions to these problems. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we have in place the Lusaka Peace Agreement whose implementation is being monitored by the
United Nations, while an Inter-Congolese Dialogue is facilitated by Sir Ketumile Masire, former president of Botswana. In Burundi, we have in place the Arusha Accord and a peace process facilitated by former president Nelson Mandela.
As far as the civil war in the Sudan is concerned we have the IGAD process. It is based on a Declaration of Principles. Key among these principles is the recognition of cultural diversity and the need for religious tolerance in the Sudan. The Declaration of Principles stresses the need to create a secular state in the Sudan so that religion can become a private rather than a state affair, and so that Sharia law can cease to be applied to the southern part of the country where the majority of citizens are non-Moslems.
Let me conclude Mr. President by emphasizing that rather than seek scapegoats, we need to address the root causes of these problems. We need to seek comprehensive and durable solutions to these complex problems. Only then will the people in our region enjoy peace, prosperity and freedom. Uganda is ready to work with its neighbours to find a durable solution to the civil war in Sudan. But this cannot be done without acknowledging its racial dimension.
Thank you Mr. President.