By Nangayi Guyson – Harare & Kampala – The two long ruling African presidents, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Museveni of Uganda, have attacked the United States, Britain and France on Libya and accused the West of twisting the meaning of a UN resolution imposing a no-fly zone.
Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe on Monday rapped attacks by the United States, Britain and France on Libya saying, “They interpreted (the UN Security Council resolution) to mean permission under it to bombard any places of their own choice in Libya, including civilian places even.
“Now it is the West which is bombarding Libya and doing it callously and they don’t care who dies.”
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, said African and Arab countries were mistaken in endorsing the resolution on Libya. “There is no reneging on the resolution anymore, it’s there, it’s a mistake we made,” Mugabe said.
“We don’t agree with the form of government that was in Libya, but Libya was nevertheless a member of the African Union and we looked forward to it transforming its own system in its own way.”
Uganda’s President Museveni
Museveni described international actions as evidence of the “double standards” that they employ on countries where their interests are threatened. President Museveni warned that the habit of the Western countries of abusing their technological superiority to impose war on less developed societies “without impeachable logic” could re-ignite an arms race in the world.
He also argued that western countries were “very eager” to impose a no-fly zone on Libya yet in countries like Bahrain and other areas where there are pro-western regimes, they have turned a blind eye to similar or even worse conditions. “We have been appealing to the UN to impose a no-fly-zone over Somalia so as to impede the free movement of terrorists, linked to Al-Qaeda that killed Americans on September 11th, killed Ugandans last July and have caused so much damage to the Somalis, without success. Why? Are there no human beings in Somalia similar to the ones in Benghazi? Or is it because Somalia does not have oil which is not fully controlled by the western oil companies on account of Gaddafi’s nationalist posture?” he asked.
Expounding on his argument that the ongoing attacks on pro-Gaddafi forces could spark off an arms race, Mr Museveni said the actions of the Western countries in Iraq and now Libya are emphasising that might is “right.”
“I am quite sure that many countries that are able will scale up their military research and in a few decades we may have a more armed world. This weapons science is not magic. A small country like Israel is now a super power in terms of military technology. Yet 60 years ago, Israel had to buy second-hand fouga magister planes from France. There are many countries that can become small Israels if this trend of overusing military means by the Western countries continues,” he noted.
However, three African countries – Gabon, Nigeria and South Africa, all non-permanent members of the UN Security Council – voted for the resolution to impose a no-fly-zone in Libya. The Arab League also announced its support for the measure.
Attacks on Libya
Western forces on Saturday launched air strikes aimed at crippling Libya’s air defences and preventing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s army from attacking civilians in a month-old uprising against his rule.
The US military said the operation had been successful in imposing a no-fly zone over the country. Libya’s government says more civilians have been killed in a third night of air and missile strikes by coalition forces enforcing a no-fly zone.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said the US would transfer its leading role on Libya “within days” to ensure the burden of enforcing the no-fly zone was shared. He also said the US wanted to see Col Gaddafi removed from power but insisted the current campaign was focused on protecting civilians.