Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni and a section of leaders in the East African Community (EAC) have praised the late Queen of England, Elizabeth II for her admirable leadership of the Commonwealth and reconciliatory efforts.
The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of 56 sovereign states and 2.4 billion people, majority of whom are in former territories of the British Empire.
In a press statement to the nation, President Museveni said that the death of the Queen came as a shock to him and the First Lady Janet Museveni, given that they had seen her receiving the new United Kingdom Prime Minister Liz Truss on Tuesday and the fact that she had defeated coronavirus months ago.
Museveni reveals that he and the First Lady had scheduled to travel to the UK on Friday to take part in the 50 years commemoration of the expulsion of Indians by former President Idi Amin in 1972, only to learn of the Queen’s demise on Thursday afternoon.
“My immediate reaction was to cancel the trip. I did not think it appropriate to continue with the trip given this loss to the UK and the Commonwealth. The function was postponed to a future date to be agreed on. Instead, the celebratory meeting on Sunday by our Indians in their Temple in London, will be a prayer meeting where the Ugandan High Commissioner to UK, will represent me,” says Museveni.
On Thursday, the Buckingham Palace announced the death of Queen Elizabeth stating that she died peacefully at Balmoral Castle, her Scottish estate where she had spent much of the summer.
Before her death announcement, members of the Royal family including the Queen’s children together with the grandchildren, travelled to Balmoral after doctors became concerned about her health earlier in the day.
Queen Elizabeth was the longest-reigning monarch in British history and the world’s oldest head of state having ascended to the throne in 1952 at the age of 25, after the death of her father King George VI.
The Queen headed the 14 Commonwealth realms, Commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces, and supreme governor of the Church of England. She was also patron of more than 600 charities and organisations.
Upon her death, the British throne has immediately passed to the son, Charles, previously Prince of Wales. He is now addressed as King Charles III and his wife Camilla becomes the Queen Consort – a term used for the spouse of the monarch.
Museveni says that in the Queen’s long reign of 70 years, she has witnessed the huge metamorphosis of the political land-scape in the world such as the the Independence of the former colonies of Britain and the Independence of the other colonies formerly controlled by France, Portugal and others.
He recounts his first interaction with the Queen 35 years ago, in 1987, when she received him at Buckingham Palace, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting in Vancouver, Canada.
“That meeting was attended by some of the iconic commonwealth leaders such as: Lee Kuan Yew, Mahathir Mohamad, Daniel Arap Moi, Brian Mulroney, Margaret Thatcher, Robert Mugabe, Rajiv Gandhi, etc. She of cours, opened our Conference and in her use of the soft power she possessed, forced the late Mzee Arap Moi and myself to sit on the same dinner table with her presiding in spite of the tension that existed between Kenya and us at that time,” Museveni narrates.
Museveni also reveals that at this first meeting with the Queen, he told her that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was the only International meeting where they do not have the inconvenience of using interpreters.
He says that this is a fact that those who see far could use for the benefit of all Commonwealth members in the areas of trade, investment, tourism and anti-terrorism.
The President also says that Uganda was honored to host the 2007 CHOGM and top leaders of the British Royal family. These included the Queen, her late husband Phillip and Prince Charles, now King of England.
“Prince Charles visited Jinja and was cheered all the way and Prince Phillip visited the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Her Majesty was welcomed rapturously between Entebbe and Kampala although it was late in the evening, I salute her contribution to the Commonwealth,” the President recounts.
Museveni also commends the late Queen for her contribution to the mutating world and efforts for reconciliation, noting her pictures he saw while she visited Northern Ireland and shook hands with the former IRA leaders yet the organization had planted bombs that had killed her uncle, Field Marshal Lord Mountbatten.
Other leaders in the East African Community (EAC) have also commended the Queen for her service to the Commonwealth.
Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya says that the Queen served humanity selflessly and was a key figurehead of not only the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
Queen Elizabeth took over the throne from her father, King George VI, who died while she was on safari in Kenya. Kenya has declared three days of mourning in honor of the departed Queen.
Kenya’s incoming President William Samoei Ruto also described Queen Elizabeth’s leadership of the commonwealth for the past seven decades as admirable.
“She steered the institution’s evolution into a forum for effective multilateral engagement whose potential to drive tremendous socioeconomic progress remain incontestable and redounds to the Queen’s historic legacy,” he said.
Ruto says that Kenya will miss the cordial ties Queen Elizabeth enjoyed with the country.
Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda also eulogized the Queen for her stewardship of the Commonwealth Nations, saying that the modern Commonwealth is her legacy.
“I extend my deepest condolences to His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen Consort, and the entire Royal Family, as well as the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth,” said Kagame.
Samia Suluhu, the President of Tanzania says that the Queen will be remembered around the world as a pillar of strength, peace, unity and stability.
These join other world leaders who have since Thursday evening continued to send messages and tributes in honor of the global icon.