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Terrorist or Freedom Fighter: What Difference? - 2001-11-12


The President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has told the U.N. General Assembly that the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter must be understood. In his speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Museveni discussed a question that is often asked at the United Nations, but rarely answered in any specific way, "what is the difference between terrorism and a legitimate fight for liberation?"

Uganda's leader used the example of Nelson Mandela to illustrate the difference. "Nelson Mandela has been a freedom fighter until recently. Was he a terrorist? Not at all. Did you ever hear of Mr. Mandela hijacking a plane? Did you ever hear of him planting a bomb in a restaurant? Mr. Mandela was a freedom fighter, not a terrorist," he says. "The difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter lies in the fact that while a freedom fighter sometimes may be forced to use violence, he can not use indiscriminate violence. The one who uses indiscriminate violence, that is the terrorist."

Terrorism occurs, Mr. Museveni said when there is no distinction made between combatants and civilians. The Ugandan president said the actions of terrorists are criminal and must be opposed by all as a matter of principle.

On another issue, Mr. Museveni criticized government agricultural price supports in many European nations. He said those supports put Africa's exports at a disadvantage. The Ugandan president drew some laughs when he said he tries to bring his own food when traveling abroad but is sometimes forced to buy products elsewhere. "The other day my stock of pineapples ran out and my staff bought some pineapples from a supermarket in U.K. [Britain], where I stopped on the way here," he said. "I just tasted one slice and then terminated the whole exercise at once. First of all, the pineapple was very hard, I have never encountered a hard pineapple until the one in London. It is also less sweet and has an ammonia-like pungent taste."

Mr. Museveni said it is a shame that Europeans are forced to eat inferior foods against better quality foods from Africa.

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