Mr President, on September 24, you addressed the 68th UN General Assembly in New York and castigated the International Criminal Court (ICC) for being shallow, biased and arrogant. You scorned political actors whom you said ignore African Union positions on complex African issues.
Well, I no longer give much attention to political speeches; they are just baloney disguised as food for thought. But yours this time round was provocative, hence this letter. You insinuated, Mr President, that ICC is dominated or rather influenced by politicians outside Africa and that as a judicial body mandated to try crimes against humanity; it is alien to Africa yet meddling in African affairs.
My submission is that the ICC is itself an African issue in principally two dimensions. First, of the 122 countries that ratified the Rome Statute under which the ICC was formed, 34, including Uganda, are African, making Africa the largest regional block in ICC. Leading countries such as USA, China, Russia, France, etc., deliberately chose not to submit to it and African rulers, including yourself, did not have the audacity to ask why.
Second, the epicenter of criminal impunity for which the ICC was formed is Africa, the cradle of bad governance. It was quite startling to hear you say that African governments supported the formation of the ICC because they abhor impunity. You know much as I do, Mr President, that that statement was false and intended to mislead.
The premises upon which the ICC was founded were correct and remain tenable. It is logical to preserve the status quo, for the ICC to decisively deal with criminals masquerading as political leaders. African Union’s anticipated position that African countries withdraw en masse from the Rome Statute should accordingly be dismissed with all the contempt it deserves.
You very well know, Mr President, that AU today is nothing but a Union of thieves, murderers and dictators, ravaging their respective countries of birth with reckless abandon. They are corrupt, only pre-occupied with opulence and monopolising political power to aggrandize themselves and their respective inner circles.
True, the ICC like any institution of record is not perfect. However, even a clock that is out of order is right twice a day. For all intents and purposes, the reputation of the ICC is arguably much better than that of virtually all African countries put together.
It is a fact that the overzealous African rulers spearheading Africa’s massive pull out from the ICC, using the Kenya case scenario as an excuse, are the very ones that led the ratification of the Rome Statute in the first place. The motivation and enthusiasm then came from their quest to contain political opponents back home. It is not surprising that support for ICC by these rulers have been dwindling the longer they stay in office.
You will recall, Mr President, that in 1980, you launched a bush war against an elected UPC Government led by Apollo Milton Obote (RIP), accusing it of plotting to rig an election. From 1980 to 1986 when NRA captured state power, close to 1 million Ugandans perished. The NRM you led was partly culpable for the Luweero massacre because like they say, it takes two to tango. Had the ICC been instituted, I am sure you would have been indicted for crimes against humanity, just as Joseph Kony the leader of the Lords Resistance Army was indicted.
Mr President, the framers of Uganda’s Constitution, of which I was part by enacting Article 3(4) thereof had in mind the notion that violence can bring peace, paradoxically. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any person or groups of people resisting any ruler intent on violating our Constitution. Such resistance may take the form of violence to obtain the necessary political demands and this would be constitutional.
On the contrary, Africa’s strongmen are the chief perpetrators of terrorism, not overtly/directly but covertly/indirectly through gross mismanagement and abuse of authority. NRM today is clearly in breach of so many constitutional provisions and has since its inception in 1986, blatantly terrorised Ugandans under the guise of maintaining political stability. It has wantonly abused even the basic rights of the people of Uganda, sometimes leading to death. A good case in point is the infamous Mukura Massacre.
Mr President, you have good reason to change your opinion about the ICC because well, you never know. After all, your opinion about many things have been changing since becoming a politician. In fact, what seems not to change is the opinion you have about yourself. I doubt the political actors to whom you chose to render the unsolicited advice on complex African issues took you seriously.
And mark this; those who remember the past with a clear conscience need have no fear of the future. The only trouble with the future is that it basically arrives before we are ready for it. God bless Uganda.
Mr Sabiiti is the MP Rukiga County.