Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni tried dodging a diplomatic landmine but landed in one when he chose to single out Somalia as an example of a nation without a state.
Museveni was speaking on Monday at an annual judge’s conference in the capital, Kampala, when he made the remarks which has attracted the ire of Somalis online.
The gripe of the Somalis largely premised on history and partly over events that have happened over the past few years with Museveni being the only Ugandan leader for decades.
The historical aspect stemmed from the crucial role that the then stable Somalia played in saving Uganda from a deadly war with neighbouring Tanzania in the 1970s.
What Museveni said:
The Ugandan leader during his remarks went into drawing distinctions between the words: state, nation and country.
“I take this occasion to remind the conference about the state, what is the state? The state is different from country, it’s different from the nation. Country means the land where you have authority over, nation means people if a common origin.
“State means organized authority over the country. You can therefore have a country without a state. I’m going to going to give you examples where there is a country but there is no state.
“There is no organized authority over that land, Somalia is one example, there are quite a number of example (but) for diplomatic reasons I don’t want to mention them.”
Mogadishu Accord of 1972, how Somalia averted Uganda – Tanzania war
Back in 1972, when ex-Ugandan leader Idi Amin had started bombarding parts of Tanzania and the Tanzanian government was also planning to retaliate, the then Organization of African Unity, OAU, intervened.
OAU under the leadership of the King Hassan of Morocco approached Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta to mediate but Nairobi said their closeness to both adversaries meant they could not intervene.
Even though leaders of Guinea, Ethiopia and Algeria were ready to intervene, it took an agreement reached in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, brokered by former president Siad Barre on October 7, 1972 to end the impending war.
The agreement known as the Mogadishu Accord signed on October 5, 1972, between the two countries followed talks facilitated by Barre and contained four major articles:
1. To cease forthwith all military operations of any kind against each territory and to withdraw not later than October 19, 1972, all their military forces to a distance not less than 10 kilometres from the common border,
2. To effect an immediate cessation of hostile propaganda invested against each other through radio, television and press,
3. To refrain from harbouring or allowing subversive forces to operate in the territory of state against the other,
4. Lastly to release nationals or property, if any, of the other state held by either state.Read More: Somalia once saved Uganda and Tanzania from a deadly war in 1972
Social media reactions to Museveni
It is true that Somalia is still fragile state with AMISOM-including Uganda Forces, as Peacekeepers. But we have had democratic power transfers for nearly 20 years while Kaguta Museveni has been in power for a lifetime, pic.twitter.com/AMddL5HPhA— Mahad Bashir Gaalaguul (@Gaalaguul) January 28, 2019
President Museveni, you should have dared to mention the other stateless countries, why only Somalia? History states that Uganda was the first stateless country. I remember, fresh bananas were used to spread over Uganda by Military aircraft of Somalia.— Nasir Abdullahi? (@ProfAbdinasir) January 28, 2019
The comments of a frail old dictator cannot harm Somalia or deter the progress made.— Bile Abdisalam (@BileAbdisalam) January 28, 2019
The reality is that Somalia is a democratic, recovering state not a dictatorship.
We pray for our brothers and sisters in Uganda peaceful power transfer after Museveni.
Museveni is right that Somalia can be labled as the perfect example of failed state. But Uganda is under dictatorship. How long is Museveni holding on to the power? 33 years.#Uganda #Somalia #Kampala #Mogadishu https://t.co/c6Em3N7xMO— SomaliaUnited (@SomaliaNews252) January 28, 2019
Somalia has seen countless peaceful transfers of power since Museveni took power in the 90s. Instead of worrying about our internal affairs, perhaps Dictator Museveni should focus on practicing democracy and allowing the people of Uganda to select a new leader. https://t.co/GlYSiyDFAZ— Somali News Updates (@Somaliweyn_) January 28, 2019