Last week president Uhuru Kenyatta made a state visit to our neighboring country Uganda. He made history by being the first African sitting president to address the Ugandan parliament. The visit was well choreographed after President Barrack Obama’s visit to Kenya. The script that is been played by the government is that President Uhuru’s visit to Uganda was primarily focused on the regional security, integration, deepening of bilateral trade, opening the markets between Kenya and Uganda by ensuring free movement of people, goods, labor and services and also elimination of trade barriers.
The two leaders (president Uhuru and Museveni) also agreed on developing oil infrastructure which includes the crude oil export pipeline which will take the northern route from Hoima to Lokichar in Turkana County and onwards to Lamu. The second pipeline will be that of refined products pipeline from Mombasa via Eldoret to Kampala. The oil infrastructure will be a reverse-flow petroleum product pipeline capable of transporting imported petroleum products to Uganda and also from the refinery in Uganda to Kenya.
So far the script of President Uhuru’s visit to Uganda seemed very legit. Covert diplomacy was well executed and no one seemed to get the real message and purpose of Uhuru’s visit. For the script/ covert diplomacy to be even real and sweet and avoid any suspicion, the government decided to throw in the sugar controversy/saga as a smoke screen. This sugar controversy was a free gift to the opposition and media from the government to keep them busy for some time so as to avoid them from speculating the real agenda which was clearly hidden in Uhuru’s speech to the Ugandan parliament.
The opposition with their lack of wisdom which happens to be their norm nowadays decided to politicize the whole sugar deal even after being told numerous times that there was no agreement signed between Kenya and Uganda. Meaning that the deal was based on a gentleman agreement terms. Any way let us not get carried away by the smoke screen deception but let’s focus on the real agenda.
The United States government has always carried themselves as the defacto inspector general on issues related to governance, rule of law and democracy across the globe. They have the power to set and direct policies governing any country without that country’s knowledge. They use the carrot and stick diplomacy. Where the carrot is in form of aid/Grants that they give and stick is in the form of ultimatums/conditions set before getting the aid/grants. During Moi’s era it was in form of retrenching civil servants. To other countries it comes in form of forcing change of governments and regimes like in the case of Libya.
Thus Uhuru’s visit to Uganda was based on a condition given before the Americans can open their goody bag and it was simply to deliver a message from Obama to President Museveni. The message was well coined and it had to be given in public and not in the confines of statehouse or a private phone call. The message was to be delivered in parliament in the presence of President Museveni. The message was, i) Museveni’s era/regime needs to come to an end and he needs to allow young generation to come in power, invest in them and not intimidate them, ii) He needs to allow full democracy in Uganda and that means allowing the opposition to have basic freedom to articulate their grievance and also play their role as watchdogs. iii) He needs to allow the will of the Uganda people to prevail and not allow rigging of elections or any other form of manipulation of the electoral systems.
This was the message that needed to be passed to Museveni and to some it may seem as a breach of Uganda’s sovereignty hence the use of covert diplomacy and smoke screens such as the sugar deal. The agreements and talks during Uhuru’s visit were just mere deception to protect the relationship between Uganda and Kenya. The question that we all need to ask, will Museveni adhere to the message given by “big brother” or will he play tough? Anything else emerging from Uhuru’s visit to Uganda is just but a mere deception.