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4 days ago


Belgian envoy: Good governance can solve political conflicts

To end political conflicts in the African Great Lakes region, leaders should prioritise good governance and the rule of law, Belgium’s special envoy to the region that comprises Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, has said.

Ambassador Renier Nijskens noted in an interview with The Observer at his office in Brussels, Belgium on May 23 that although the region has made good progress in communication, education and economic growth, it is still held back by ethnic and political conflicts.

“The challenges that remain are of governance. It is really a big problem. More participation of people in the political atmosphere would make a big difference,” he said.

Nijskens added that governments must be accountable to the public, ensure “justice always finds its way” through punishing all criminals without favour and that citizens benefit from the country’s wealth.

“In many parts of the world, as governance improves, stability improves. The political climate is more peaceful and citizens recognise themselves as belonging to a government, so there are no questions,” he said.

Ambassador Renier Nijskens
The Great Lakes region has been affected by both ethnic and political instability in the past and present ranging from wars in the eastern parts of the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Uganda and South Sudan.


However, the minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, said in a telephone interview that “almost all countries in the region are at peace.”

“Do we have bad governance? In Uganda we have a functioning parliament; we have a vibrant press,” Otafiire said. “Of course we have some contradictions here and there, occasionally, but I don’t think we lack what is expected of good governance.”

According to the more Ibrahim index of African governance report 2016, improvement in governance in some countries, Uganda inclusive, was small over the past decade due to deterioration in safety and rule of law.

Triggered by a crackdown on the opposition and the arrests of President Museveni’s main challenger, Kizza Besigye, after the 2016 general elections, the international community, especially the European Union (EU) and the USA, called for sanity and rule of law in Uganda.

“Dr Besigye was always arrested for clashing with the law. It is not that we wanted to arrest him,” Otafiire said.

Uganda has played a pivotal role in ensuring peace within the region. It has sent troops to DRC, South Sudan and Somalia, a move that Nijskens termed as courageous.

“More recently, President Museveni has accepted to be the mediator in the Burundi crisis,” he said.

Nijskens, however, regretted the recent calls by President Museveni for the EU to lift sanctions against Burundi. The EU on March 15 2016 suspended direct financial support for Burundi after the country’s leadership failed to do enough to find a political solution to the local conflict that has so far killed 400 people.

But Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli made the call during a May 20, 2017 meeting of the East African Community (EAC) in Dar es Salaam. Museveni said the EAC didn’t want EU to take measures against a member country without consulting them... by JONATHAN KAMOGA
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2 weeks ago


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Poem by Kimani Wa Kivumbi

O Uganda, How I Miss You!
O Uganda! I miss you.
I miss you and your sweet bananas.
I miss your matooke and the beautiful nyabos.
I miss your beautiful capital and its dirty ghetto
That I called home, Kisenyi.
I miss you like a child misses sleep,
Like an oppressed people miss a revolution.
I have travelled far and wide
But still, still, I cannot compare anyone to you!
I now sit in this far-away land
And reminisce all the fun I had in Kampala,
And though I would earn just half what I do here
There’s no place I’d rather be.
There’s no embrace I’d rather have, I’d rather feel,
Than that of Kampala, warm and tranquil.
The pearl of Africa
With the friendliest people God ever made.
I miss you and I’m coming home
I’m coming to stay
To a mother that’s not my mother.