Eyebrows raised as Kenya and Uganda court Israeli friendship

By Henry D Gombya

The leaders of Kenya and Uganda have paid what appear to have been secret visits to Israel in which the Jewish state, at war with the Arab world for a long time, promised to strengthen both country’s armed forces. Kenya and Uganda, who are on friendly terms with most of Israel’s Arab enemies, seem to have left Israel with assurances that their armed forces would be strengthened to counter any outside threat.

News about these visits was first published in Kampala, the Ugandan capital when the independent English daily, The Daily Monitor, reported that President Yoweri Museveni had secretly left the country in his private jet to pay a visit to Israel where he was met by the country’s President and long-time politician, Mr Simon Perez. The paper quoted Ugandan’s Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, James Mugume as saying: “I was not aware of that trip. Only in countries likje Uganda can a head of state leave the country for a foreign trip without their own foreign ministry knowing about it.

The Daily Monitor’s story was echoed by the government-owned New Vision newspaper that confirmed that President Museveni had indeed travelled to Jerusalem and held talks with Mr Perez last Sunday. Quoting President Museveni’s deputy press secretary Linda Nabusayi, the Daily Monitor wrote that a statement from Ms Nabusayi in Jerusalem had said the two presidents discussed ‘matters of mutual interest’ that included attracting Israeli investors to Uganda. But the paper also quoted what it called ‘a senior government official’ as saying that the purchase of arms from Israel was likely to have been one of the major topics for discussion. “You cannot rule it out,” the paper quoted the official as saying.

On its part, the New Vision quoted President Perez as having praised his Ugandan counterpart on the way he has ‘championed democratic’ rule in Uganda. The paper also quoted President Perez as having congratulated the Ugandan leader on his re-election to a fifth term in office. Perez is said to have commented that this re-election showed Ugandans had trust in him.

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