ISRAELI PAPER LIKENS MUSEVENI TO DONALD TRUMP

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Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyanhu at State House, Kampala. PHOTO | COURTESY
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyanhu at State House, Kampala. PHOTO | COURTESY

“He’s the Ugandan Donald Trump,” a colleague quipped after Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni finished delivering a rambling speech during an event on Monday to mark 40 years since the Entebbe raid.

Except for one huge difference.

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Mr Trump wants to be president; Mr Museveni has been president of his country for more than 30 years.

That type of longevity, it seems, gives a man certain privileges. And this is where the similarities to Mr Trump kick in. Like Mr Trump, the Ugandan president seemed to be shooting from the hip.

The address got off on a rather different note when Mr Museveni said the sad events of the raid were being turned into another instrument of “bonding the Holy Land—Israel/Palestine—with the heartland of Uganda in particular, and Africa in general”.

While the sentiment was noble, calling the land his guest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, represented as Israel/Palestine was a bit odd.

SLIP OF THE TONGUE

Lest one think that this was just a slip of the tongue, the Ugandan president said another sad bond between “Africa and Palestine” took place in the biblical story of Joseph.

Citing the Book of Matthew, Mr Museveni then said Jesus was hidden in Egypt from Herod, whom he termed a “bad gentleman”, another event binding “Africa and Palestine”.

His constant references to “Palestine” led some to wonder whether Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was in the crowd. But it became clear he meant Israel, even though he was saying Palestine, when he pointed out that the Entebbe rescue operation of 1976 is yet another bond between the two areas growing out of adversity.

Mr Museveni then made some comments that surely found favour in Mr Netanyahu’s ears — that liberation movements do not use terrorism, that people cannot be freedom fighters and murder innocent people.

BIGOTRY

He also said Uganda cannot accept the “bigotry” that either the Jews or the Palestinians do not belong to the Holy Land.

Mr Museveni said this is the message he conveys “when I meet my friends, the Arabs or the Iranians”.

“This is what I tell them. I want to tell them that you are all mentioned in the Bible,” he said.

He regaled the crowd with a tale of a meeting he had with a former Iranian president, whose name he could not remember, and rejected the leader’s claims that the Jews came from Europe, not the Middle East.

“I showed him in the Bible. We cannot accept the bigotry that either of you do not belong to the Holy Land,” he said, before discussing the so-called Uganda scheme of the early 20th century, when the British colonial secretary at the time, Joseph Chamberlain, agreed in principle to settling Jews in Uganda.

Mr Museveni attributed the plan not to Mr Chamberlain but Lord Balfour.

nairobinews.nation.co.ke

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