President Yoweri Museveni has decried the failure by African countries to intervene and defend Libya from the attack by western countries, which saw the country’s long serving leader, Col Muammar Gadhafi deposed and later on slain in cold blood.
The NATO led attack, Museveni said, could have been stopped even militarily if necessary by the Africans if it wasn’t for lack of coordination.
“Africa should not have allowed the western countries to attack Libya; we should have intervened,” he told the BBC’s Alan Kasujja in an interview in London.
“We tried diplomatically buy we should have tried even militarily. Africans could have intervened and taught those people a lesson. Libya (was) an African country being attacked by foreign powers; we should have intervened. We could have stopped them. That was a failure.”
Terming the western invaders as “stupid” Museveni said launching strikes on Libya and killing its leader was not the right way to solve the civil strife in the oil rich nation.”
The United Nations sanctioned attack was carried out by a coalition of up to 19 nations under NATO.
It involved largely air strikes on Libya’s military assets, an arms embargo, a no-fly-zone and severe economic sanctions.
The attack which went on from March to October 2011, ended with the capture and murder of Col Gadaffi.
Museveni, in the interview, said one of the reasons the Africans were unable to intervene was because this was a “surprise attack.”
“We didn’t believe it could happen; even me I couldn’t believe that anybody could be so stupid to attack an African country in that way,” he said.
“We had no time and we were scattered here and there, but the potential is there. If we want to chase the invaders we can chase them.”
The President cited examples where Africans through the African Union have organized and defeated foreigners.
“The African Union when it was formed in 1963, it said all Africans should be free, peacefully or though fighting. The people thought we were joking. But the Africans orchestrated the fight against the Portuguese in Mozambique, the Boers (in South Africa) who were backed by all kinds of western powers; and by 1974, within 10 years, the Portuguese empire had collapsed. Africa can fight.”
Asked what he would have done had he been consulted to resolve the Libyan crisis, Museveni said he would have handled it diplomatically.
“I fought Muamar Gadhafi two times, in 1972 and in 1979 because he was supporting Amin. He had his own issues, but the way it was handled (in 2011) is not the way to handle it. When he intervened in Chad, some people opposed him. When he intervened in Uganda we defeated him; then we dialogued. Actually we had become very good friends with Gadhafi. From the fighting we became very good friends. We had a way we were handling him but these foreigners came and caused a lot of chaos.”