Museveni backs independence for South Sudan

By George Murumba

10th January 2011

Museveni: Backs South Sudan independence

President Yoweri Museveni has come clean and thrown his weight behind Southern Sudan’s desire to break away from President Bashir’s north to form Africa’s newest nation.

President Museveni’s remarks came a day before the people of South Sudan started voting in a referendum that analysts say will almost certainly lead to the birth of an independent South Sudan.

Asked by the BBC’s Joseph Warungu if his support for South Sudan’s cessation did not go against his long held vision of regional integration, Museveni said “…unity should be principled unity; not unity based on suppression and inequality”.

President Museveni, who has been a close ally of the people of South Sudan and their long struggle for independence, also added that “…the unity formula was messed up with some people thinking they are more superior than others”.

He however stopped short of mentioning who those “people” are; although analysts say that it is fairly obvious from his statements that he meant the Arab dominated north which is under Gen. Omar El Bashir leadership.

Museveni also refused to speculate on whether or not Sudanese President Omar El Bashir would accept the outcome of the vote.  But he was quick to add that “…the people of South Sudan know how to defend their interests as they have done in the past”.

That, analysts say, is a veiled reference to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army’s [SPLA’s] long armed struggle for independence; a struggle which only ended after Bashir’s Khartoum government and John Garang’s SPLA signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA] in Nairobi-Kenya.

President Museveni was a personal friend of the late rebel leader John Garang and in fact supported the SPLA rebellion in retaliation for Bashir’s support for Ugandan rebel groups like Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  John Garang, who became Vice President of Sudan after the signing of the CPA, died when Museveni’s helicopter that he was travelling in crashed.

It is in Uganda’s strategic national interest that the ‘independence’ referendum that kicked off on Sunday 9th January and ends 15th January 2011 produces an outcome that is accepted to both the YES and NO camps.

Instability in Southern Sudan affected Uganda with the country hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled the two decade civil war.  For a long time Joseph Kony also set up bases in south Sudan from where he launched attacks on civilians in northern Uganda.

According to the Referendum Bureau of South Sudan, the final outcome of the vote will be announced on 6th February or 14th February if there are any appeals against the result.

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