Al-Shabaab: Museveni Needs Allies

Published on 19th July 2010

Museveni has vowed to crush al-Shabaab
The recent terrorist attacks in Kampala Uganda have given Ugandan strongman a big boost. It is sad that the Somalia-based terrorist group succeeded once again to make a point in the July 11 twin-attacks in Kyadondo and Kabalagala that claimed over 70 lives.

Given that Museveni for long has always avoided to state when he would step down, he now has something to tell Ugandans. He will ask for more time to thwart Al-Shabaab.

To avoid this abuse of democracy, Africa should devise means to neutralize Al-Shabaab quickly. The war against Al-Shabaab should not be left to Uganda and Burundi alone. The African Union needs support to see to it that Somalia gets a functional government. Instead of sending peace keeping forces, we must send liberation forces and anti-terrorism squads whose mandate should include combating piracy, drug peddling and arms peddling, a hallmark of groups like Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Somalia is suffering and bleeding to death as far as abuses of human rights are concerned. Refer to the recent edict that all men in the area controlled by Islamic fundamentalists should grow beards within 30 days. Women are not allowed to wear bras. Schools are not allowed to use bells. People were barred from watching the just ended FIFA World Cup matches in South Africa.

Terrorist groups can be stopped. Refer to what happened in 1978 when Tanzania took on Uganda’s Idi Amin. Many at the time thought it was day dreaming to take on such a boisterous dictator. Tanzania did it and left many people relieved.

We should not allow a replay of the 1998 terrorist bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi when Al-Qaeda attacked and got away with it. We must educate our people who support those groups wrongly thinking they are fighting for Islam. True Islam has nothing to do with terrorism.

Given that Burundi, Kenya and Uganda belong to East African Community, when any or one of them is attacked, all the countries in the region are attacked. This means, the war Museveni promised to launch on Al-Shabaab is the war of the whole region so to speak.

All countries in the region must step up efforts to secure their borders. All suspicious persons from Somalia should be kept under surveillance and their business activities scrutinized. Even the movements of people from Somalia should be restricted and highly regulated for the good of the neighbours.

Rich countries and United Nation Security Council should act decisively to empower countries that are ready to take on Al-Shabaab and act with the same seriouness the US and its allies are showing in Afghanistan.

If this war is left to Museveni alone, Ugandans will pay dearly. Museveni will capitalize in the same to remain in power. But if Al-Shabaab is flushed out timely and quickly, Museveni won't have any reason to cheat Ugandans to remain in power as opposed to the constitution he has already tampered with.

What's more, probing all businesses supervised by suspects, sympathizers, conspirators, and agents needs international cooperation. Investigating the sources of incomes for these groups begs for international solidarity and cooperation.  Another thing is to see to it that sanctions are applied to all countries, companies supporting these groups.

Rich countries should fully support African countries to amass African peace keeping forces that should also have full mandate to engage directly with those terrorist groups in the front line. For Museveni, his vows are good if the aim is to stamp out Al-Shabaab. This good motive will end up cropper shall Museveni take the whole issue personally and extend his rule. Uganda can still stand and fight even without Museveni. For what is needed to fight Al-Shabaab is not one person but the country's commitment to its security and prosperity.

By Nkwazi Mhango.

Mhango is a Canada based Tanzanian. He is a Journalist, Teacher, Human Rights activist and member of the Writers' Association of New Foundland and Labrador. He is also author of Saa ya Ukombozi.



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