Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has advised his South Sudan counterpart, Salva Kiir, to resist the temptation of using violence when dealing with his political opponents.
Museveni was Monday speaking at Freedom Hall in Juba during the national dialogue initiative ceremony attended by top South Sudan government officials, heads of diplomatic missions accredited to South Sudan, members of political parties and diplomatic corps.
Museveni cautioned South Sudanese on ethnic divisions saying, “It’s not your tribe that will ensure your prosperity. It’s your neighbour who buys your goods.”
He said emphasising ethnic identity at the expense of interest is not good.
He commended Kiir for calling a national dialogue and inviting all stakeholders to discuss their issues.
“We defeat politicians who use identity in Uganda democratically by reasoning with our people,” Museveni told Kiir.
He then reminded the audience that Kiir was elected by 97% of South Sudanese and that at the time, they didn’t have tribes during referendum
“You don’t have to disappoint all these people or history will judge you,” Museveni warned Kiir.
Cautioning him against the use of violence, Museveni told Kiir to be mindful of the private sector saying these don’t like wars.
“Speak frankly within the [SPLM] party. Reach decisions by voting or by consensus. Never use force.”
He added: “The use of violence in every situation is dangerous. It should be the last resort and specific.”
As for impunity by the armed forces, Museveni told Kiir that during his National Resistance Army [NRA now UPDF] days, they were strict with discipline.
“You Ukill a person as a soldier, we try and shoot you in public. You rape a woman, [unakula risasi-you get/eat a bullet]. This was how we regained the trust of the public.”
Museveni said tolerating impunity creates distrust between the government and its citizens.
He said allowing soldiers to misbehave towards civilians and letting them go scot-free tarnishes the image of the country.
“Every revolutionary movement needs to prioritise army discipline by putting the interest of the citizens first. Tolerating impunity, that is another big danger. When people make mistakes like killing, rape, and defilement.”
In December 2016, President Kiir, whose wrangling for power with his former deputy Riek Machar plunged the world’s newest nation into a brutal conflict, Kiir called for “national dialogue” to end the ongoing civil war.
Kiir pointed out that the national dialogue will be bottom-top approach to address local grievances and political issues in the country.
But the opposition described the dialogue to end the ongoing conflict as “bogus”.