Uganda’s President used the inauguration of Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta as Kenya’s fourth president to attack the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told the gathering of dozens of African leaders and tens of thousands of Kenyans on Tuesday that he saluted Kenyan voters for rejecting “the blackmail” of the ICC by electing as president Kenyatta, who is scheduled to stand trial at the court in July. Museveni claimed unnamed states have sought to abuse the ICC for their own agenda.
“I was one of those that supported the ICC because I abhor impunity. However, the usual opinionated and arrogant actors using their careless analysis have distorted the purpose of that institution,” said Museveni, indirectly referring to unnamed Western nations that had also been the subject of criticism by Kenyatta during his campaigns.
“They are now using it [the ICC] to install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate the ones they do not like,” Museveni said, echoing a theme that featured during Kenyatta’s campaign for the presidency.
The Ugandan leader qualified his comments as personal even though his speech was made on behalf of two regional groupings – the East African Community and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. Kenya is a member of both organizations. Museveni was the only foreign dignitary who spoke during Kenyatta’s inauguration.
“What happened here in 2007 was regrettable and must be condemned,” said Museveni, referring to the violence that nearly tore apart Kenya and for which Kenyatta and his Deputy President, William Samoei Ruto, are facing charges at the ICC.
“A legalistic process, especially an external one, however, cannot address those events. Events of this nature first and most importantly, need an ideological solution by discerning why they happened. Why did inter-community violence occur? Was it for genuine or false reasons?” Museveni said.
Museveni’s speech was made after Kenyatta and Ruto took their oath of office. In his inaugural speech as head of state, Kenyatta said that he recognized Kenya was part of a global world and his government would work with the country’s traditional partners, a reference to Britain and other Western governments that have seen the country as an anchor state in the Eastern Africa region.
Kenyatta was declared the winner of the March 4 presidential poll, but his closest rival, former Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga, challenged the results at the Supreme Court. On March 30, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Odinga’s petition and second one challenging Kenyatta’s election, paving the way for Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony.
The Ugandan leader also spoke about the ICC cases against the leaders of Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Museveni said he referred the matter of the LRA leaders to the ICC because at the time the group was operating outside Uganda and therefore Uganda could not do anything against them.
Uganda’s referral of the LRA cases to the ICC was the first the court received after it formally started work in July 2002. The referral was made in December 2003 when the LRA was still active in the country, committing atrocities in Uganda’s north. The LRA, however, also operated from bases in what is presently the Republic of South Sudan, formerly the southwestern part of the Republic of Sudan.