Government Reacts to Rebels’ Declaration of Interim Government
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) _ The military government said Tuesday that a rebel group’s announcement it has set up an interim government in southwestern Uganda was an attempt to exploit tribal friction.
Yoweri Museveni, leader of the National Resistance Army, declared Monday that his group had established an administration to provide services in the southwestern districts it claims to control.
″What is now beginning to transpire is that Museveni is demonstrating his total disregard of the peace process,″ the government said in a statement.
It was issued in Kampala following a day-long meeting of the ruling Military Council. Copies of the statement also were distributed in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, where the government and the rebels are involved in a fourth round of negotiations.
President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya has presided over the peace talks, which began in September. He has said the current round of talks would be the last he will host.
The rebel decision to establish an interim government ″is totally void and of no legal consequence,″ the government statement said.
″It is now clear Yoweri Museveni wants to divide and polarize Uganda into Bantu and Nilotic factions so that he can exploit their differences to gain power by force of arms. Yoweri Museveni seems incapable of distancing himself from tribalism.″
Bantu refers to the various tribes in southern Uganda. About one-fourth of the country’s 14 million people belong to the Baganda Bantu tribe.
Nilotic refers to northern Ugandans, among them the Acholi and Langi tribes that dominate the armed forces.
The government claimed that Museveni also was trying to incite Bantu members in neighboring Kenya and Tanzania.
″This would tend to introduce an element of instability in this region,″ the statement said. Gen. Tito Okello, Uganda’s head of state and chairman of the Military Council, issued a separate statement.
He said the areas where Museveni claims to have imposed his administration have never been captured by the National Resistance Army.
″He was only tolerated to remain in those parts of the country with a view to reaching an understanding with the various fighting groups of the National Resistance Movement,″ Okello said.
The National Resistance Movement is the political wing of the National Resistance Army and also is headed by Museveni.
The National Resistance Army was the largest and best organized of four insurgent groups that fought separate wars against the civilian government of President Milton Obote, which was toppled in a July 27 military coup.
The military government has accused the Natonal Resistance Army of trying to delay the peace talks by demanding that one of its members be named defense minister, a position Museveni held in a previous government Government negotiators in Nairobi have offered to give the guerrillas the post of vice chairman on the Military Council.
They also have proposed expanding the council from 12 to 20 members, with seven seats each for the army and the guerrillas, and five seats for smaller guerrilla factions cooperating with the government.