The tension between Kenya and Uganda, which has been mounting ever since Uganda accused Kenya of complicity in the Israeli raid on Entebbe airport two weeks ago, is only one of several potentially explosive situations in East Africa.
The tension between Kenya and Uganda, which has been mounting ever since Uganda accused Kenya of complicity in the Israeli raid on Entebbe airport two weeks ago, is only one of several potentially explosive situations in East Africa. Their neighbours in the immediate north, Somalia, Ethiopia and Sundan, have also been involved in international disputes and internal unrest.
SYNOPSIS: The border between Kenya and Uganda looks peaceful enough -- where the public are allowed to approach it. But in the past week or so, a small but steady stream of Kenyan citizens, adding up to several hundreds, have been leaving Uganda for good, saying they are afraid to live there any more. And Kenyan officials believe that Ugandan agents have also been making the crossing, along with the innocent refugees.
Hostilities os far have been confined to press and radio. Nairobi newspapers have carried Government statements accusing Uganda of massing troops to attack Kenya. Uganda's official broadcasting station has poured out counter-charges and threats. Each government has denied the other's accusations.
To the north, the leaders of Somalia and Ethiopia, President Said Barre and Brigadier-General Teferi Bante, had an unusually friendly meeting last January. Kenya is almost as wary of Somalia as she is of Uganda; they fought a bitter border war for years. And Somalia and Ethiopia have a history of mutual suspicion.
It stems from the situation in the bleak territory of the Afars and Issas. Ethiopia suspects that Somalia intends to appropriate it. It was here that Somali-backed guerrillas hi-jacked a bustled of French school-children in February. Two of them died in a rescue operation by French troops. The French killed six guerrillas and captured a quantity of weapons.
France still controls the territory, and French warships can be seen in force form time to time in the harbour of Djibouti, the capital. But the French government has promised the territory independ one shortly, and says it will not keep its military base there, in spite of Djibouti's strategic importance at the mouth of the Red Sea.
The Organisation of African Unity has taken a close interest in its future. Earlier this year, it sent a delegation to Djibouti to investigate the prospects for the territory's independence. And at the recent summit in Mauritius, Ethiopia pressed Somalia -- without success -- to guarantee its integrity after the French leave.
The political situation in Ethiopia itself is not entirely stable. There was a big welcome on May Day for the military leader, General Bante, and for Major Mengistu (on the left) and Colonel Atnafu, his two Vice-Chairmen. But a general has just been shot, and eighteen people executed, accused of plotting against the government.
At the Mauritius summit, General Bante had a talk with his neighbour to the West, President Ja'afar al-Nimeiry of Sudan -- who has also been involved in an attempted coup. President Nimeiry was just back form Paris when fierce fighting broke out in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
The revolt was crushed in two days -- but not before heavy damage had been caused to the army headquarters, which was one of the main targets. At least 300 people were killed.
Mohammed Nur Said, alleged to have led the rebel forces, was captured for interrogation. He was also said to have arrived form Libya, and President Nimeiry accused Libya of being behind the coup.