physician geneva; font-size: small;”>“Ethnicity should be discussed only in cases of chauvinism or when there is opportunism and sectarianism in the political class. This is why we have a crisis in Sudan. The Sudanese leadership wanted to declare the entire Sudan an Arab and Islamic State yet there were millions of non-Arabs and non-Muslims in the country,” Museveni said.
He further stated that the chauvinist tendencies of Khartoum subsequently sparked a war for independence among South Sudanese.
Museveni made the remarks on Saturday during the two-day Tana High-Level Forum on Security of Africa.
The conference was organized by the Institute for Peace and Security Studies of the University of Addis Ababa, in the Ethiopian northern city of Bahir Dar.
The President was contributing to the topic “The Crisis of Diversity on the African continent.”
He said the major problem to the African continent was poverty as the majority of the continent’s citizens live below the poverty line.
Museveni said anyone who does not address the human survival and prosperity needs of the people of African but simply hangs on issues like ethnicity as a basis of political action, will not be defending the interests of anyone but those of selfish and politically bankrupt.
The war between Sudan and South Sudanese forces is deepening following the capture of the oil-rich town of Heglig on Tuesday by the SPLA.
The Uganda government has in the past openly confirmed it’s backing for SPLA in consolidation of their independence from Khartoum.
The President further said Africans needed to be careful while handling ethnicity issues because there was no guarantee that these ethnic groupings will stay the same for generations bearing in mind that the world evolves and is also greatly affected by dynamics of the global politics and economics, among others.
Museveni emphasized that the people of Africa should think more about their future survival in the face of the challenges impinging on them globally before looking at their small ethnic differences and warned them they risk suffering extinction or any other historical setbacks if they don’t organize themselves.
“Even if you don’t share the same ideology, why don’t you unite? Just unite for the sake of the survival of the African continent and its people,” he emphasized.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said diversity is a state of mind that a particular person perceives in a certain way and wants to express his point of view.
He added that it was very important to listen to all points of view and possibly attend to them.
Museveni noted any leaders who cherished in the prosperity and peace and security of the African continent would support all efforts to eliminate poverty.
“If the African leaders and those who love the continent do not address ways of ensuring economic prosperity of the continent and her people and only engage in the African people’s diversity, ethnicity and all forms of their social and religious differences and regard these as the main cause of insecurity to the continent, then they either don’t know the continent well or they are enemies of the African people,” said Museveni.
The Chairperson of the Forum, who is also the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said diversity is a result of identity and it generates conflicts because leaders fail to identify those diversities, accept them and attend to them in their form.
Prof. Mahmood Mamdan, one of the key presenters, blamed the politicization of cultural differences as well as the acceptance of having customary laws running parallel to the national laws in one nation as the source conflicts due to diversity.
In a related development, Major Gen. James Hoth Mai has been appointed SPLA’s new Chief of Staff replacing Oyai Deng Ajak.. Ajak has been sent to handle the regional cooperation ministry.