Somalis bash Museveni over ‘stateless nation’ comments

Somalis are up in arms against what they called disrespecting remarks by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni about their country. Addressing the 2019 Annual Judges conference at Kampala Serena Hotel on Monday, Museveni told judges to bear in mind and know the difference between a country, nation and state while dispensing justice.

“What is a state? The state is different from country, nation. Those three words are different.” said Museveni in his opening remarks.

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“Country means the land where you have authority over. Nation means people of a common origin…State means organised authority over the country. You can therefore have a country without a state. We have got many examples where there’s a country but there’s no state, [where] there is no organised authority over that land. Somalia is one example. There are quite a number of examples but for diplomatic reasons I’m not going to mention them.”

Museveni’s comments haven’t gone well with Somali nationals who say they actually see no difference between Uganda and Somalia in terms of technological advancement or infrastructure development. In any case, some said, at least Somalia has been changing presidents and has not been “stuck” with the same “dictatorial” president for the last 33 years as Uganda pretending to preside over a ‘fake’ democracy.

Uganda is currently having strained diplomatic relations with neighbouring Rwanda with counter accusations of kidnap, murder and expulsion of each country’s nationals being made by both countries. It is not immediately clear if Museveni’s comments will also affect Somalia-Uganda relations. Somalia ambassador to US Ahmed Awad reportedly told the BBC  that anyone can say what they want.

“As matter of fact, Somalis are the only people in sub-Sahara Africa that belong to one single ancestry. This unique attribute kept the Somalis together and saved their sovereignty in the face of trying times. If a small percentage of what had happened in Somalia was experienced by Uganda, the nation state that they inherited from Great Britain would be thrown into the dust pine in a short period of time. In other words, Uganda does not [have] the resilience the Somali nation has to withstand pressures.” wrote Faisal A. Roble, the former editor-in-chief of WardheerNews in an opinion piece in the same newsoutlet.

“Somalis are, unlike Museveni’s misconception, still together despite a protracted civil war. Uganda would have died long time ago had similar centripetal forces were applied to its polity. Despite significant setbacks, Somalia today boasts a representative government, albeit imperfect, and a fledgling federal system with two houses of lawmakers and 5 federal member states.”

Adding; “Somalis conducted a free and fair national election in 2016 where Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo defeated a well-heeled incumbent to the surprise of both nationals and foreigners. Compare this exercise in Somalia to that of Museveni’s Uganda. According to a New York Times article, “Mr. Museveni seems to be making plans either to extend his reign beyond what is now legally possible or to hand power over to his son.”

“This ageing autocrat came to power in the 1980s and has ruled Uganda thus far with an ironclad. Kids who were born at that time when Museveni usurped power are in their 30s. They have not seen any other leader except Museveni.”

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