KAMPALA (Reuters) - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday condemned foreign air strikes against the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, accusing the West of double standards and a thirst for more oil.
Museveni is part of an African Union (AU) panel formed to mediate in Libya alongside the leaders of South Africa, Mauritania, Congo and Mali.
The group was forced to abandon a plan to fly to Tripoli on Sunday because of the U.N.-mandated no-fly zone over the country.
“The Western countries always use double standards,” Museveni wrote in an 18-page statement.
“In Libya, they are very eager to impose a no-fly zone. In Bahrain and other areas where there are pro-Western regimes, they turn a blind eye to the very same conditions or even worse conditions.”
The former rebel, who was given arms by Gaddafi during the bush war that brought him to power in 1986, said African countries had been appealing for years without success to the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over war-ravaged Somalia.
“Are there no human beings in Somalia similar to the ones in Benghazi?” he wrote. “Or is it because Somalia does not have oil which is not fully controlled by the Western oil companies, on account of Gaddafi’s nationalist posture?”
Museveni, in power for 25 years, has faced threats of protests after easily winning a presidential election in February that opposition parties said was a sham due to widespread bribery, ballot box stuffing and intimidation.
The African Union, which is bankrolled to a large extent by Libya, has said it favors an African solution to the crisis but has drawn criticism from a growing number of African political pundits who say it has reacted too slowly.
Museveni also hit out at Gaddafi in the letter, criticizing him for allegedly supporting “terrorism” against the West, interfering in the internal affairs of smaller African nations and lobbying for African political integration despite widespread objections.
“These positions of Colonel Gaddafi have been unfortunate and unnecessary,” Museveni wrote as part of a list of five “negative points” about the long-ruling Libyan leader.
He then outlined what he said were four positive points about Gaddafi, including standing up against Islamist extremism and forcing the West to pay fairer oil prices.
A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable in December revealed that Museveni feared Gaddafi would shoot down his plane because the two had fallen out over Gaddafi’s plan for a ”United States of Africa.
Additional reporting by Justin Dralaze; editing by George Obulutsa and Mark Heinrich