LETTER : One-party rule in Uganda

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From Dr Geoffrey Davies

Sir: Colin Legum's letter (2 August) challenges the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's claim that multi-party democracy promotes tribalism and religious conflict in Africa. Perhaps Mr Museveni's view should not be generalised across Africa, but modern Uganda's bloody history gives support to this view.

Uganda has a few very large tribes that dominate its economic and political life, and religion has served to exacerbate these tribal divisions: Catholics versus Anglicans versus Muslims. The situation of Kenya, too, is rather similar to that of Uganda. On the other hand, Tanzania, with its large number of smaller tribes, has no natural major constituency seeking power.

Mr Museveni has proved to be an enlightened ruler. He has pursued a successful policy of political and tribal reconciliation since the end of the civil war in 1986. The country's human rights record is good by African standards, and Uganda's press might rank among the freest in the world.

The danger, though, is obvious. Mr Museveni is riding the proverbial tiger. Let the tiger tire before telling him to get off.

Yours faithfully,

Geoffrey Davies

Enfield, London