By Henry D Gombya
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has come under heavy criticism for comments he made Monday when he visited his beleaguered friend, South Sudan President Salva Kiir and threatened to use force against former South Sudan Vice President Riek Teny Machar if the latter does not accept a ceasefire offer made by leaders of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) last Friday.
Speaking to journalists soon after arriving in Juba, President Museveni revealed that East African countries had agreed to move in to defeat South Sudanese rebel leader Dr Machar if he rejected a ceasefire offer, threatening to turn an outburst of ethnic fighting into a regional conflict.
Reuters news agency quoted Museveni as saying: “We gave Riek Machar four days to respond (to the ceasefire offer) and if he doesn’t, we shall have to go for him, all of us.” Asked what that meant, Museveni said: “To defeat him.” IGAD had last Friday at a hurriedly-arranged summit held at State House Nairobi given both sides in the South Sudan conflict that has so far claimed an estimated 2000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands, until December 31st to agree to a ceasefire. This statement by Museveni has not been confirmed by others in IGAD.
Speaking to The London Evening Post from his Nairobi home, the Chief Executive Officer of the Pan African Forum (PAF) Dr David Nyekorach Matsanga referred to President Museveni’s comments in Juba as ‘unhelpful and very regrettable’. He said while IGAD and others like the PAF were seeking peaceful means to end the South Sudan conflict, it was quite uncalled for when a member of IGAD comes out and threaten to use force against one side in the South Sudan conflict.