Uganda: President Slams ICC at Inauguration For Fifth Term

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Uganda President Yoweri Museveni was sworn in for his controversial fifth term on Thursday, using the opportunity to take another swipe at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ceremony was set for controversy from the beginning after Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC on genocide charges, was invited. The ICC asked Uganda to arrest the Sudanese president but Museveni defied the request and publically labelled the court “a bunch of useless people” in his speech.

 

Al-Bashir walks free again

The incident is another blow of the Hague-based court after Al-Bashir was allowed to leave South Africa, despite a warrant being out for his arrest. Both South African and Uganda are signatories of the Rome Statute, which obligates them to comply with ICC rulings. However, sentiment against the ICC from African leaders has been growing and Museveni’s snub is a major setback for the court’s authority.

Worse still, Museveni hasn’t simply failed to enforce the ICC’s arrest warrant as South Africa did, he has publically insulted the court, insisting he no longer supports it. Meanwhile, Al-Bashir walks free from another country signed to the Rome Statute and the court proves ineffective once again.

 

Walkout over Museveni comments

Museveni’s comments sparked a walkout from US, Canadian and European diplomats in protest of the president’s stance. Rights groups also condemned the actions of the Ugandan leader, claiming they were an insult to the victims of violence under Al-Bashir’s regime.

Concerns had already been raised about Al-Bashir’s presence before the ceremony, but diplomats decided to attend for the sake of relations with Uganda. However, the diplomats decided to walk out of the ceremony following Museveni’s comments.

A spokeswoman for the US department insisted the decision to walk out was justified.

“We believe that walking out in protest is an appropriate reaction to a head of state mocking efforts to ensure accountability for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly when his country has committed to accountability as a state party to the Rome Statute,” Elizabeth Trudeau explained.

 

Featured image:
By TSgt. Jeremy T. Lock – DefenseImagery.mil, 080701-F-1644L-062, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5645484