TABU F. BUTAGIRA & RONALD BATRE
President Yoweri Museveni has criticised his African peers for relying on foreign military forces to maintain peace and security on the continent.
Gen. Museveni said Africa needs to immediately build one strong army that would intervene swiftly to restore calm in any beleaguered state and end unnecessary western benefaction. "Should Africa continue to seek defence patronage from abroad?" Mr Museveni asked on Friday, adding: "In whose interest is this patronage?"
Presently, over 13, 000 UN troops under the United Nations Mission in Congo are struggling to restore calm in the restive eastern DRC where renegade rebel chief Gen. Laurent Nkunda is fighting the Kinshasa government of Joseph Kabila.
On August 1, the UN approved the deployment of 26, 000 military and police personnel to Sudan's volatile Darfur region where an estimated 200, 000 people have died and another 2 million displaced since a conflict erupted in the oil-rich western province in 2003.
The home-grown African Union troops deployed there earlier are over stretched and have under performed mainly due to logistical bottlenecks and lack of money.
"While we may get help from bodies like the United Nations, it is imperative that we take initiative in promoting peace and preventing conflict," Mr Museveni said in a speech read for him by State Finance Minister (general duties), Jachan Omach at International UN Peace Day national celebrations in Arua on Friday.
"We need to build a credible military force that can guarantee the future of the African race". The President said many of the wars ravaging African Countries have continued to escalate and claim more lives due to delayed response arising from over reliance on foreign armed forces.
He said conflict resolution must be given a new priority on Africa's development agenda if harmony is to prevail within and between the continent's 53 nations. "Africa must strive to be ideologically independent if we are to secure and maintain peace and stability across (national) borders. We must share the same vision for our continent," Mr Museveni who had initially disagreed on fast tracking formation of a single African government, said.
"Conflicts have devastated the African continent, causing loss of millions of lives, human rights have been abused and entire populations forced to abandon dwellings and take on refugee status," he said.
"It is not only appalling but also abhorrent that the perpetrators of such acts normally attack defenseless civilians, children and women in order to advance their causes". The International Peace Day was celebrated under the theme: Promoting Cross-border Peace and Stability; Our Commitment, Struggle In Our Development and Progress.