Uganda’s Museveni flogs the International Criminal Court

Conflict In Context - Field Notes

Is the International Criminal Court (ICC) guilty of political cleansing?

Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), must have gasped on hearing Uganda’s Museveni lash out at the ICC while the newly sworn in Uhuru Kenyatta and Zimbabwe‘s Robert Mugabe clapping and snickering in the background.

In his speech, Museveni accused western countries of abusing the ICC through its use of “legal gymnastics” in order to install leaders of their choice in Africa.

Legal gymnastics, indeed. Accuse the accuser.

Museveni was suggesting that the motives behind “arrogant” western powers helping the ICC indict Kenyatta were every bit as nefarious as Uhuru Kenyatta alleged machinations behind the bloodshed following Kenya‘s last elections in 2007/8.
Museveni and co have a point; the USA, China, India and Israel are not a members of the ICC, yet the US is all too happy to breezily take the moral high ground when it comes to Africa.

Johnnie Carson, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs,warned Kenyan citizens that “choices have consequences”.  Kenyans interpreted this to mean that if they voted for a man accused of crimes against humanity, Kenya may no longer have the economic and political support of the US.

Big deal, Kenyatta might have thought, there’s always China.

ICC’s own weaknesses alone won’t absolve ICC indictees, but it does underscore the hypocrisy of countries that refuse to join the International Criminal Court.

Kenyatta could call the ICC’s bluff by saying he’d be willing to stand trial at The Hague if US becomes a signatory member of the criminal court. Theoretically, the court could then indict George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney for lying to the American people about the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction that prompted the US invasion of Iraq.

In our dreams.

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