Uganda's President Idi Amin yesterday offered to withdraw his troops from 700 square miles of Tanzanian territory provided Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere promises never to invade Uganda again or help exiles trying to overthrow Amin's rule.
Armed clashes broke out between Tanzania and Uganda after the Ugandan leader ordered the invasion and annexation of a marshy section of Tanzanian territory along the western coast of Lake Victoria. Amin said the action was in retaliation for an alleged incursion into his own country by Tanzanian troops.
Tanzania denied taking part in any invasion of Uganda. Diplomatic observers in the area said they believed Amin used the military action as a smokescreen tactic to cover a military rebellion among his own soldiers in southern Uganda.
Amin said his troops will be with-servants and diplomats in the Ugandan capital of Kampala that because of African mediation efforts, Uganda wishes to announce it has "no intention of keeping an inch of Tanzanian territory." The speech was monitored in Nairobi.
Amin said he troops will be withdrawn as soon as the current chairman of the Organization of African Unit (OAU), President Jaafar Nimeri of Sudan, gives the required guarantees from Tanzania.
It was not immediately clear if Tanzania is willing to provide the guarantees demanded by Amin. Tanzanian President Nyerere has vowed to hit back at Amin "until we have finally got rid of the snake from our house."
Former Ugandan President Milton Obote - the man Amin ousted from power in 1971 - lives as an honored exile in Tanzania. Nyerere, reportedly, has secretly helped Obote try to topple Amin from power, including participation in an abortive invasion of Uganda in 1972.
At the height of the recent border conflict Amin not only announced he had annexed the captured teritory but Tanzania responded by pledging openly for the first time it would now actively try to oust the Ugandan dictator from power.
Cuban Foreign Minister Isodoro Malmierca, in Tanzania on an official visit, termed the Ugandan invasion "deplorable" and called for a quick settlement of the two African nations' border conflict.
Malmierca said that there had been no discussion of Cuban aid to the Tanzanian war effort to drive out the Ugandans. "Our government does not feel that the current situation demands the presence of Cuba," he said.
According to diplomatic sources in Nairobi the initial Ugandan thrust across the Tanzanian border resulted from loyal Ugandan troops pursuing mutinous units from the Simba Battalion, based near the border, across the rolling bushland in the border area on the western bank of Lake Victoria. Ugandan authorities have vigorously denied there was any mutiny at the battalion's barracks in Mbarara town.
President Amin referred yesterday to some kind of unspecified indiscipline in his army.
"I want to assure you (the Ugandan public) that if there are a few members of the armed forces who are not in the front line who try to spoil the good name of the Ugandan army, marines and air force, this should be reported." he said. "They are subject to the military law and the law of Uganda."