Uganda says conflicts in Darfur can be traced to British colonial rule and blames the colonial policies for the rise of rebel movements throughout the country. Ugandan presidential spokesman Francis Onapito Ekomoloit Tuesday blamed British colonial rulers for the domination of a black African majority by a small Arab minority in Darfur and other parts of Sudan.
He said rebel movements such as the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Army, or SPLA, grew out of protest against this inequality.
"Because of the British colonial policies which did not respect that majority and entrenched the Arab dominance, that's why there's all this backlash which started with the SPLA and now it is spreading in Darfur," said Mr. Ekomoloit. "This is basically resistance by the black majority in Sudan against a minority Arab domination."
The presidential spokesman said the conflict in Darfur and other parts of Sudan is a racial one, as, in his words, there is now an Islam on Islam fight in Sudan, based on race.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told a small arms seminar last Friday the Darfur crisis is a time bomb arising from the British colonialists, in his words, mixing Arabs and Africans.
This is not the first time the British colonial government has been blamed for the current crisis in Darfur.
Politicians in Darfur have long accused the British of neglecting the region after the colonial power annexed Darfur to Sudan in 1916.
They say the British chose to build schools in and around the capital Khartoum rather than in remote places, such as Darfur, and when they left, the better-educated Arab groups moved into the region.
The Sudanese government has repeatedly rejected the claim that the fighting in Darfur and other areas of Sudan is racially motivated. Instead, officials in Khartoum blame hooligans and outlaws for the violence.
The Bush administration has called the Darfur crisis a genocide and is leading diplomatic pressure in the U.N. Security Council to impose strict sanctions against the government in Khartoum.
In an earlier interview with VOA, Foreign Affairs Minister Mustafa Ismail denied there is a genocide taking place in Darfur.
"We are challenging those who are saying that this is genocide," he said. "Tell us the numbers. Tell us the names. Tell us the graves if you haven't got the numbers. Where are they?"
The 20-month-old Darfur conflict has killed an estimated 50,000 people and displaced over a million more. The United Nations says it is the world's worst humanitarian crisis.