Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Tuesday hit out at The Hague-based court as President Uhuru Kenyatta asked the West not to overstretch international treaties.
Mr Museveni, who accused the International Criminal Court of blackmailing Kenyans and whose government presented the first African case to the ICC, claimed the court was being abused by some people for their own agenda.
In what he called his personal opinion, the Ugandan Head of State implied the election of President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, both ICC indictees, was confirmation that Kenyans had rejected the court’s “blackmail”.
“I want to salute the Kenyan voters on one other issue – the rejection of the blackmail by the ICC and those who seek to abuse this institution for their own agenda,” he said.
Mr Museveni said he was one of those who had supported the ICC because he hated impunity.
“However, the usual opinionated and arrogant actors using their careless analysis have distorted the purpose of that institution,” he noted.
“They are now using it to install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate the ones they do not like.”
Mr Museveni said he regretted the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007/08 but an external legal process could not address those events.
A local investigation, he said, needed to be conducted to find out why such events had happened in the first place.
Such an investigation would establish genuine reasons as to why villagers attacked one another or if any of them was personally responsible for whatever mistakes that occurred.
“Instead of a thorough and thoughtful process, we have individuals engaged in legal gymnastics,” he said of the ICC process.
The Ugandan story
President Museveni gave the example of Uganda where about 800,000 people were killed by the leaders who were in charge of the country between 1966 and 1986.
“Have you ever heard us asking ICC or the UN to come and help us deal with that sad chapter of our history?”
He said the country only referred Ugandan fugitive Joseph Kony of LRA to the ICC because he was operating outside Uganda.
Otherwise, he would have been handled within the country, he continued.
“Equally, Kenyan actors are the ones best qualified to sit and delve into their history in order to discover the ideological stimuli the Kenyan society needs.”
He said Kenyan voters had upheld the sovereignty of the Kenyan people.
When he spoke, President Kenyatta gave a thinly veiled attack on the West reminding them that they must not overstretch international treaties.
Kenya will strive to uphold our international obligations, he said, “as long as these are founded on the well-established principles of mutual respect and reciprocity.”
“We must remember that no one country or group of countries should have control or monopoly on international institutions or the interpretation of international treaties,” President Kenyatta said.
President Museveni, speaking as chairman of Comesa thanked former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, and other presidential candidates in the March 4 General Election, although they did not win.
Accepted court verdict
In reality, he said, the candidates won because they enriched the process by offering clear options out of which the 14 million voters in Kenya chose from.
“In particular, I would like to salute, Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka for the statesman-like manner in which they handled the election outcome,” he said.
“They took their grievances to court and accepted the verdict although this was not favourable to them.”
He also lauded the Jubilee Coalition for not being provocative as they celebrated their presidential victory.
“This is democracy – Democracy by completion.”
Mr Museveni turned his attention to journalists as he praised the Kenyan Media on grounds that it exhibited high standards of professional integrity and maturity throughout the election exercise.
The Head of State called for an organised process in the region that would enable the East African countries harvest natural resources such as oil deposits already discovered in the region.
“All the member countries of the EAC have varying levels and amounts of deposits of these natural (oil) resources,” he said.
Mr Museveni noted that African nations have been struggling, begging and borrowing from external sources, to develop infrastructure for a steady path to industrialization.
“On account of this coordinated effort and unity of purpose, we will meaningfully exploit our resources which God has given us, add value to them and fully grow our economies to maturity and begin an irreversible break from poverty.”
This will be the true independence that African nations fought for, he said.
East Africa is not about oil alone, he added: “It is also about trade and the exchange of goods and services – utilising the integrated market of East Africa.”
These newly discovered natural resources, therefore, are only catalysts to enable us move quickly and develop other sectors; sectors that are more durable and sustainable than minerals including oil and gas, the Comesa boss said.
“Among the areas to be aggressively developed are trade within and outside Africa; so that the oil and gas found do not divide us, important as they may be.”
President Museveni also called on the removal of non-tariff barriers such as numerous weigh bridges, police road blocks, delays at border crossings in the region to help boost trade.