Abortive East African summit talks fail to solve Uganda problem
East Africa's political climate has turned frosty in the wake of an unsuccessful summit meeting on Uganda. Tanzania's President Julius Nyerere tried to hold a top-level parley at Arusha, Tanzania, that would have included Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi, Sudan's President Jaafar Nimeiry, and Ugandan military leaders, headed by the ruling military commission's chairman, Paul Muwanga.
Nothing seemed to go right. At the last minute, Kenya's President Moi decided not to go, a direct snub to President Nyerere and the Ugandan leaders.
The purpose of the summit was to discuss the Uganda situation, including the prospect of democratic elections later this year to elect a government and a president.
President Moi firmly announced that in view of the prevailing unrest in Uganda he thought it "inopportune" to attend the summit. Earlier, Mr. Moi had attacked the militry takeover of Uganda and the ousting of President Godfrey Binaisa from control of the government. He had appealed in vain to the military commission to release Mr. Binaisa from "protective custody."
That made a bad beginning to the conference. Actually, the Kenya President had found the prospect of sitting down with Mr. Muwanga and the new military rulers of Uganda intolerable, especially since the summit was originally planned while Mr. Binaisa was in power.
The summit nevertheless was held. The meetings were private, but word was leaked asked for a deadline for the removal of all Tanzanian troops from Uganda. There still are 10,000 Tanzanian troops there by arrangement between President Nyerere and the military commission.
Apparently Mr. Nimeiry said he believed no free and fair elections could be held while Tanzanian troops were still there. He also demanded the immediate release of Mr. Binaisa.
None of this went down well with eitherMr. Nyerere or the Uganda leaders. Mr. Nyerere insisted the Tanzanian troops would stay as logn as the Uganda government wanted them there Mr. Nimeiry apparently alleged the troops were responsible for the state of insecurity in Uganda.
Sudan's close interest in the matter arises from its position as Uganda's northern neighbor and its involvement in all the recent troubles in Uganda. A flood of refugees has poured into Sudan, including remnants of Idi Amin's beaten army.
The Uganda spokesman at the confrence said the military commission had taken control to prevent bloodshed and anarchy from developing under President Binaisa.