Why At His "Swearing" in Ugandan Dictator Museveni Went ICC Ballistic, Again...

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The last hurrah?


During his swearing in on Thursday, Uganda's second president, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, again denounced the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a "bunch of useless people" prompting the U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac and a delegation from the U.S. there for the ceremony to walk off.

Gen. Museveni always plays two cards when he wants the attention of the West, especially the United States. He denounces the ICC and he also threatens to pull out Ugandan troops from Somalia, where together with soldiers from Kenya and Burundi they have been sustaining a weak central government under threats from al-Shabab militants.

It's been a rough week for the general.

First on Wednesday Dr. Kizza Besigye who was presidential candidate of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) political party in the Feb. 18 election beat Museveni to the punch and was sworn in first.

Then commenting on Besigye's swearing in, the U.S. actually acknowledged it and went even further, saying in a statement from The State Department:

"As we have said before, the United States does not support or endorse any one party or candidate in Uganda. We remain deeply concerned that government security forces continue to detain members of the political opposition and restrict their freedom of movement. We reiterate our call to the Ugandan government to immediately release Dr. Kizza Besigye from house arrest as well to release all other detained opposition members.”"

It's reasonable to assume that Museveni was livid by the time his turn to be sworn in came.

He may have had all the pomp, the colors, and the guests from around the world, but he knows that it's Dr. Besigye who has popular legitimacy.

The February election was universally denounced after it set the standard for rigging, by Ugandan election observers and by the Commonwealth and European Union (EU) and the United States, as having been not free, fair of credible.

Then in a remarkably blunt speech on April 16 in Uganda ambassador Malac again denounced the conduct of the election as well as regime corruption which led to the embezzlement of donor funds meant to fight HIV/Aids.

Last week Gen. Museveni again played the Somalia card; a regime official hinted that Uganda could withdraw its troops from there. The threat is not as potent as before: this is because there are now thousands of troops from other African countries propping the Somalia government; and the U.S. has escalated use of drone attacks against al-Shabab.

What's more Museveni himself and his top military and political officials would stand to lose much. It's estimated that as much as 2/3 of the several millions of dollars the U.S. sends Uganda to subsidize its troops in Somalia is embezzled.

But Gen. Museveni has an even more personal reason for denouncing the ICC vociferously.

This is the same court whose praises he once was singing after it agreed to indict Joseph Kony and other leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

But it turns out that even that might have been a grand ruse to save his own neck.

Given the atrocities committed against Acholi civilians by Museveni's own troops as documented in "A Brilliant Genocide" the new documentary by Australian filmmaker Ebony Butler -including mass rapes of women and men to spread HIV/Aids, burying people alive, and confining people in camps for 20 years where an estimated million died-- what would motivate Museveni to suddenly want to care about Acholis and have the ICC go after Kony?

And if, with his mighty army that overthrew Rwanda's Juvenal Habyarimana and Zaire's Mobutu couldn't capture Kony, how would the ICC do it?

So as it seems unrealistic that the ICC would ever capture Kony might there have been other motives?

Yes, indeed.

According to a front-page story in The Wall Street Journal on June 8, 2006, several ICC prosecutors were appalled when then chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo posed together with Museveni for a photo-op to announce the Kony indictment.


This was because the prosecutors believed that Gen. Museveni himself could one day be indicted as commander in chief of Uganda's army for alleged war crimes committed by Ugandan troops during its occupation of Congo from 1997 to 2005.

In 2005 the International Court of Justice had already found Uganda liable for the crimes -massacres, rapes, pillage of resources- and ordered it to pay reparations of $10 billion to Congo.


The Congo had also referred a complaint to the ICC on the same alleged crimes in April, 2004. So when Museveni posed with Ocampo to talk about Kony's alleged crimes, he actually knew the ICC was already investigating the horrendous crimes his troops committed in Congo.

According to the Journal's article, "Mr. Moreno-Ocampo set up a separate team to investigate atrocities there, which will likely involve reviewing Uganda's alleged support for Congolese militias. President Museveni of Uganda asked U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to block the Congo investigation, according to one person familiar with the matter. Mr. Annan replied that he had no power to interfere with the court, this person said."

So Museveni, it appears, arranged to have the ICC focus on Kony to divert attention from the alleged crimes by his soldiers in Congo.

Of course Museveni has never been indicted; not yet anyway.

Only a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council has the power to block an ICC investigation.

Could it be that now that relations aren't all that rosy with Western countries following his conduct before and after the sham elections Museveni fears that they will no longer provide him cover?

Interestingly recently Ugandan officials including justice minister Kahinda Otafiire started speaking, out of the blue, about the need to pay Congo the reparations, which, inclusive of interest and penalties should now be $28 billion; in any case Uganda doesn't have that type of money.


Repaying the ICJ-awarded reparations would of course not prevent any ICC action from proceeding.

Does Museveni fear that he ultimately will be indicted for the Congo crimes which set off a chain of wars that have claimed an estimated 7 million lives?

Is that why Sudan's al-Bashir was a guest at Museveni's swearing in because he knows they may one day share the dubious distinction of being the only two African presidents indicted while still in office? Or in Museveni's case claiming to still be in office?

Time will tell.

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