October 10, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said that the identity issue represents the major challenges facing the African continent and Sudan; and obstructing prosperity and development.
- Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir (L) smiles with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni as he arrives at Khartoum Airport for talks during an official visit to Sudan September 15, 2015. (Photo Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
The African leader who participated in the opening of the closing session of the National Dialogue Conference was speaking in a symposium in Khartoum on Monday evening attended by many Sudanese politicians and officials from the different forces.
The pan-African leader called on Sudanese peoples not to focus on race (Africans, Arabs), and religion (Muslim, Christian and non- religious). He further urged to coexist in total respect of each other and to join hands to develop their country.
“The problems and crises that have been facing Sudan since sixty years ago are the same ones faced by Uganda and other African countries which embodied in the identity mainly and others issues, Museveni said in debate at Sudanese capital Khartoum on the sidelines of the final session of the national dialogue conference on Monday evening.
Ugandan leader stressed that the development should be the only thing to be proud of and represents African identity, pointing out that the Sudanese opposition has exploited the identity issue.
Following the secession of South Sudan in November 2011, the Ugandan leader held similar statements when he received the President of the newly independent South Sudan, Salva Kiir.
“The word Sudan means ‘land of black people’. Sudan is an Afro-Arab country. The mistake of the Khartoum government was to manage it as an Arab county,” Museveni said on Friday 15 November 2011.
He also repeated the same statements in Addis Ababa in April 2012, when he said that the attempt by a ruling class in Khartoum to declare the whole of what was Africa’s largest country an Arab and Islamic state was illustration of how not to foster peace.
This time, the Ugandan leader who reconciled with President Bashir avoided to criticize the ruling National Congress Party. He just called on the Sudanese to promote peaceful coexistence and to be proud of their African identity, pointing out that the opposition has exploited the identity issue.
He confirmed that his country, Uganda, has resolved misunderstanding with Sudan, noting that "some Sudanese" have contributed to fill the gap of views between the two countries.
The Ugandan president was alluding to Najwa Gadah Aldam, a Sudanese female who worked for the United Nations office in Kampala. She spent years to reconcile the two leaders and improve bilateral relations between the two countries.
"In Uganda, we missed a lot of opportunities because of the war in Sudan, because our country is not locked, but linked by Lake Victoria, which could not be exploited because of the war," he added.
The Ugandan leader stated that re-opening of the dialogue for the holdout opposition groups is not the right approach, but encouraged them to join the process as suggested by Sudanese President, al-Bashir. He calling the political forces achieve consensus and unity.
Sudanese armed and political groups refuse to join the dialogue process in Khartoum and call to consider it as first phase of another process to be prepared by the African Union mediation team and after creating the confidence building measures.
In the past, Kampala and Khartoum traded accusations of support to the rebel groups.
The improvement of bilateral relations between the two countries, may contribute to achieve peace in South Sudan, and prevent their involvement in the inter South Sudanese conflict, observers say.
A dissident figure of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Mubarak al-Fadil, called on President Museveni to put pressure on the armed movements to join the dialogue process, stressing that al-Bashir’s commitment to implement these recommendations is the only way to succeed the process.