YOWERI Museveni's accession to power in Uganda offers the best prospect of peace in years to his compatriots, afflicted by internecine strife for nearly 20 years. His political and economic views should be encouraging to Ugandans and to many in the West. The situation is fluid. But enough is known for the West to conclude that Mr. Museveni merits support. The more they can give him, the better.
Museveni is more likely to turn West than East for economic assistance. The United States has made it clear that $8 million in economic aid has been available, once the killings and human rights violations of former regimes ended. The money ought to be provided swiftly.
The southern areas held by the new government can expect an end to the human rights violations, including those by ill-disciplined troops, for which past governments had been sadly noted. In their long struggle as guerrillas, Museveni's forces displayed tight discipline.
It is not yet known whether forces loyal to the former government of Tito Okello will continue military resistance in the north, where they could be expected to derive tribal support. But the Museveni forces have sufficient firepower that they might be able to limit the area of conflict.
Museveni is a fervent nationalist, sometimes given to rhetoric that to Western ears sounds extreme. But those who have followed his activities, most recently as leader of a five-year guerrilla war against two former Ugandan governments, consider his thinking sound.
He has noted the agricultural and economic devastation, with attendant famine, that came to Ethiopia from an overemphasis on state agricultural planning by the Marxist government. Museveni, who has pledged to rebuild Uganda's economy, is determined to avoid a similar situation: hence his expected major effort to strengthen the role of the small farmers, who feed Uganda's citizenry. He would thereby be strengthening free enterprise, albeit with some government planning.
Museveni says he will restore democracy to Uganda, and he has promised general elections.
He has said that Uganda will be strictly nonaligned in foreign policy and will maintain good relations both with the United States and the Soviet Union.
He has also indicated, however, that under his leadership Uganda, like other black African nations, will oppose the policies of both Israel and South Africa.
Museveni is believed to be wary of offers from East-bloc nations to station personnel in Uganda to rebuild government institutions. He is said to lay substantial blame for the human rights violations by Uganda's Army on training by North Korean soldiers.