In Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, Africa has a false prophet on ICC and justice

By Donald Kipkorir

NAIROBI, KENYA: Africa Union held its 21st Ordinary Meeting in Addis Ababa last week, which also doubled up as its 50th Anniversary. Many resolutions were passed on conflict resolution, enhancing intra-Africa trade, and establishment of a rapid-response Pan-African military unit. However, ex tempore remarks attributed to its Secretary General Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had it that if the ICC cases facing our President and Deputy President are not referred back to Kenya, then AU will withdraw from ICC and pull its troops out of Somalia. And this so-called resolution by Africa was sponsored by Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda. We must disassemble these arguments.

The International Criminal Court was formed on the ashes of 5million people killed in World War I, and the 60million killed in World War II, and the others killed in senseless wars in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Universal consensus developed that some crimes are so grave that they become supra-national and traverse national jurisdictions. Prof Mahmoud Cherrif Bassiouni, who teaches International Criminal Law at the University of Chicago, has given us unparalleled teaching on this field. His writings and teachings are unrivalled. And he is from Egypt.

The ICC may be part of the global family and has 122 countries as members. By its founding Rome Statute, membership is voluntary, and so is withdrawal. Membership is individual to member countries. The threats by AU to withdraw en masse are therefore the tantrums of a child, if not the croaking of a frog. Kenya, like the other members, freely joined the ICC and we then domesticated the Rome Treaty in our International Crimes Act that we enacted on December 24, 2008.

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Countries voluntarily join such international organisations as the ICC because we realise that alone, we are an island adrift, but together, we are part of the main. The talks and agenda prevailing in all forums like the AU is the urgency of the moment to integrate trade, security and diplomacy. How then can we want to pull out of the ICC, which is premised on the same principles?

The jurisdiction of the ICC to indict suspects is derived in a three-fold way. Principally, the jurisdiction is through referral by member states for intervention, then, referral by the UN Security Council, and lastly and rarely, the ICC Prosecutor acts proprio motu. In the cases pending at the ICC, most were by state referrals and few by Security Council. In our case, we invited the ICC by default when we ignored the deadlines we set ourselves. As for renegade Joseph Kony of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni asked the ICC to step in and indict him.

For one, and in all my previous columns, I have always maintained that the ICC cases against our President and his Deputy are built on ice, but being belligerent on the Court is not the wisest legal counsel. A lawyer that advises the client to throw brickbats at a court needs de-briefing.

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The whole training of a lawyer is built around decorum and respect to the Judges and fellow lawyers. To therefore continue antagonising the Court is a great defence lapse.

Then walks in Museveni. We must not give him the space to lead our country on a collision course with the ICC and the international community. Here is a man who as a leader of a guerilla movement, drove to Kampala on January 1, 1986 and overthrew an inept but democratically elected government. He came in with a ten-point agenda, whose tenets included restoration of democracy, elimination of corruption and cessation of abuse of power. Yet, Museveni is presiding over Africa’s resurgent kleptocratic state. As Kenya is making unprecedented reforms in all sectors, Museveni is planning how to install his son, Brig. General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, 39, as his successor.

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Museveni reminds me of Simon Bar Kokhba, who claimed to the Jews that he was the Messiah spoken of in the Book of Numbers 24:17 as the “star of David” who will smite Israeli enemies. He led Israel in its second revolt against the Roman Empire, and in retaliation, Israel was wiped out in 135AD and dissolved into the Roman Province of Syria Palaestinia. Since then, all religious writers of Israel have labeled Simon Bar Kokhba a heretic and a false prophet. Just because Moreno Ocampo was overzealous in indicting on bar-gossip does nt mean we must dismantle ICC. It is only witches who are afraid of daylight.

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