Column Inches

Eight tourists were murdered in Uganda. Here is how some press commentators responded.

The slaughter of the tourists is yet another chapter in the bloody history of Rwanda. But why should Uganda be involved? In recent years Uganda has made a remarkable recovery from the ghastly times of Idi Amin and his successor, Milton Obote. It has become the darling of the aid donors and Yoweri Museveni, its president, is lauded in the West. But there is another side to Uganda. It backs rebel movements in its neighbours, Sudan and Congo, and Mr Museveni is seen by some as the American-backed spider at the centre of a network which is trying to take over central Africa. In turn, its neighbours back Uganda's enemies - like the gang which killed the tourists. The Americans and Britons were targets probably because of their governments' support for Uganda.

Richard Dowden, Mail

The killing of four Britons in Uganda, allegedly because of Britain's support for the Tutsi regime in Rwanda, was ghastly and tragic. Travellers to turbulent parts of the world take a risk. British visitors have been killed in Yemen, in Chechnya and in South-east Asia. None received two, three, four pages of gruesome coverage, day after day. Rwanda and its borderland is the site of Africa's Cambodia, a blood-bath not yet over. The genocide is ignored by British and American interventionists largely because blacks are killing blacks, and doing so far from cameras and aircraft carriers. It is hard not to conclude that the attention being given to this tragedy was because blacks killed whites, and with gruesome weapons, thus conforming to the stereotype of "barbaric" Africa.

Simon Jenkins, Times

The targeting of British and American tourists in western Uganda is tragic, but not, unfortunately, surprising. The Rwandese militiamen who murdered them attribute their successive military defeats to an "Anglo- Saxon" plot to wrest influence in central Africa from France, the country that supported them before, during and since the end of the 1994 genocide ... The killers of these tourists do not understand the politics of compromise. Their efforts to spread the message of hatred have brought untold suffering to millions of Africans and brought central and southern Africa to the brink of a major conflagration. The latest tragedy is a reminder, as if one were needed, that these forces cannot be allowed to succeed. They can and should be disorganised, deprived of funds, weapons and political support. Indictments, detention and trials by the International Tribunal for Rwanda should be stepped up. Their European and African networks of support should be exposed.

Rakiya Omaar, Guardian

There is a cruel irony in the fact that four Britons are among the eight tourists killed in a game park in Uganda. This is a country that both Tory and Labour governments have extolled since Yoweri Museveni led his National Resistance Movement into Kampala in 1986. While it would have been difficult not to improve on the preceding misrule under Idi Amin and Milton Obote, the new leader was credited with rebuilding a sense of national unity and laying the foundation for economic growth. Even his ban on political parties in favour of a broad-based movement has met with the West's approval. In a continent where so much seemed to be going wrong, this bluff ex-soldier afforded striking evidence to the contrary. Yet the view of President Museveni as a paragon was always simplistic. Within his own country he has never subdued the north, where the Lord's Resistance Army, with support from Khartoum, is forcing Kampala to devote much of its budget to defence. And beyond Uganda's frontiers, Mr Museveni has played a Machiavellian role in the whole area of the Great Lakes. Without his support, the Tutsi rebels would not have taken power in Rwanda in 1994. Their victory in turn was an important factor in the defeat of President Mobutu, in what was then Zaire and subsequently became the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr Museveni has thoroughly embroiled himself in the power politics of the region ... The deaths in the Bwindi national park are a reminder that he is not invulnerable to the forces that he has unleashed.

Leading article, Telegraph

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