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PM Rugunda assures Non-Aligned Movement of Uganda’s support

Rugunda in Venezuela
Rugunda in Venezuela

Uganda has assured Venezuela of full cooperation as it leads the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) over the next three years.

The Non-Aligned Movement wrapped up a summit Sunday in Venezuela with Uganda one of the countries expressing support for its embattled host, President Nicolas Maduro.

The 120-member group issued a statement at the end of the two-day meeting calling for peace, urging world powers not to meddle in other countries’ affairs and voicing concern over violence in Syria, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories.  The summit had scathing attacks on US “interventionism” around the world.

“Uganda remains committed to upholding the values and principles of the Non Aligned Movement. You can continue to count on our firm support, ” said Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda at the 17th NAM Summit in Margarita, Venezuela .

“For almost 55 years to date, the Non-aligned Movement  has relentlessly supported peace and adherence to the ideals of a world order free of conflict and devoted itself to securing the well being of all peoples, ” said Rugunda, adding that “Uganda continues to support the ideals of the movement, including the struggle for a just and equitable world order, freedom from colonialism, foreign occupation, the right to self determination and struggles against racial discrimination.”

Rugunda said that Uganda, in line with the NAM spirit, has sought resolution of conflicts in Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He asked NAM to support Uganda’s regional approaches to solving conflicts. “The experience in our region has also demonstrated the important role that regional organizations such as the African Union (AU) as well as sub-regional organizations like the International Conference on Great Lakes (ICGLR) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), can play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts on the continent.”

Rugunda said this year’s meeting is taking place at a time when the founding principles of the NAM are being tested. He said the 120 members face new social, economic, political and security challenges- some intractable, that could have a profound impact on them.

He mentioned the conflict in Syria, terrorist  attacks by groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, climate change and global warming, current impasse in the Middle East Peace Process and nuclear disarmament and proliferation.

“NAM should continue to promote and encourage all nations to resolve disputes and conflicts through dialogue, negotiations and other peaceful means. This will be our contribution to achieving collective responsibility for global peace and security.”

On the current impasse in the Middle East Peace Process, Rugunda said it is untenable. “It only prolongs the uncertainty, instability and insecurity that is so detrimental to both Palestinians and Israelis. It is important that the parties resume talks and make their best efforts to create an environment conducive to the resumption of direct negotiations.”

The 120-member group issued a statement at the end of the two-day meeting calling for peace, urging world powers not to meddle in other countries’ affairs and voicing concern over violence in Syria, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories.

The 190-page document also urges support for “the struggle against terrorism, for solidarity with refugees in northern Africa, and the Venezuelan people’s right to peace,” Maduro told a press conference.

Founded 55 years ago to give a greater voice to countries squeezed in the power struggle between the United States and Soviet Union, the Non-Aligned Movement has struggled to stay relevant since the end of the Cold War.

Just a handful of heads of state or government attended the summit on the Caribbean island of Margarita.

It was a key diplomatic encounter for Maduro, who has been left increasingly isolated as Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy has skidded into crisis amid a collapse in global crude prices, fueling calls for his ouster.

The leftist leader, who accuses the United States of backing opposition attempts to remove him in a “coup,” emphasized that the summit had backed his government’s condemnation of US sanctions that declare Venezuela a threat to US national security.

“It’s a total economic war; we will be winning it,” Maduro insisted at the closing event.

The White House says that language is a formality for imposing targeted sanctions, but Maduro has lambasted it as alarmist.

Venezuela took over the rotating presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement from Iran at the meeting. It will hold it for the next three years.

Maduro looks keen to recast the group as a bulwark against “interventionism” and “neo-colonialism,” analysts say. Both words were oft-invoked at the summit.

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Additional reporting by AFP

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