Museveni calls for mass pull-out of African states from International Criminal Court

Friday December 12 2014

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda speaks at

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda speaks at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi during the 51st celebrations of Jamhuri Day. He said he would lead African leaders in a mass pull-out from the ICC. He accused the court of being used as a "tool to target" the continent. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By AFP
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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Friday said he will mobilise African leaders to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing it of being used as a "tool to target" the continent.

Museveni was cheered as he spoke at Kenya's 51st Jamhuri Day celebrations at the Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi.

His sentiments come shortly after the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda withdrew crimes against humanity case against President Uhuru Kenyatta.

"I will bring a motion to the next sitting of the African Union to have all African states withdraw from the court and then they can be left alone with their own court," Museveni said.

He accused Western nations of using the ICC as a tool to target Africa.

President Kenyatta has said he was "vindicated" after The Hague-based court dropped all charges accusing him of allegedly masterminding Kenya's deadly post-election violence in 2007-2008.

The trial of his deputy William Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang on similar but separate charges continues.

Experts say the collapse of the case against President Kenyatta has been the ICC's biggest setback yet.

The AU has previously slammed the ICC for unfairly targeting Africans, calling the international court "racist", and in 2013 requested for the Kenyan cases to be deferred, a bid which was rejected by the United Nations.

ICC UNDERMINING AFRICA

"The ICC has been undermining African states. We told them to wait to try Kenyatta and Ruto after they finish serving their terms, they refused," Museveni added.

"Now, see, charges against Kenyatta have been withdrawn," he said.

AU heads of state next meet on January 30-31, 2015 at the bloc's headquarters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

African countries account for 34 of the 122 parties to have ratified the ICC's founding treaty, the Rome Statute.

The withdrawal of African countries from the court would seriously damage the institution.

But previous AU debates on the issue in October 2013 saw the bloc divided, with countries like Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Rwanda taking a tough line, but other nations seemingly reluctant to get embroiled in a diplomatic confrontation.

Any withdrawal would be the decision of individual nations that have signed the Rome Statute.

The AU is also driving efforts to set up an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, although that is not expected to be operational for several years.