By Faruk Kirunda
After so much time wasted, so much scheming and so much false promises made, the opposition has been slapped in the face. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has dismissed a petition which sections of the opposition had filed against President Yoweri Museveni and government of Uganda in respect of clashes that broke out between security forces and militia allied to the Rwenzururu kingdom in 2016. The clashes saw a number of people and security officers killed.
Movers of the petition included four time unsuccessful presidential candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye, Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago and a host of other regulars in the politics of Uganda.
The team apparently collected two million signatures to lend a semblance of mass acceptance of the petition and paint a picture of widespread discontent at the human rights record of Uganda and the NRM leadership. How they drummed up the matter! You would think Museveni was going to hand over power and flee for dear life just by hearing that he was being dragged to ICC. I am surprised that these people totally don’t understand the person or government they are joking with. Now ICC has slammed a door in their faces. Where they expected to reap political capital, they have reaped shame because they should have known better that they had no case since we told them this during the time they were patching up the document.
From the beginning, the petition was laughable because President Museveni is the greatest defender of human rights, democracy and good governance. The petitioners were attempting to use the ICC to advance their political interests on account of failure to gain mass acceptance and popularity among Ugandans. It was also ill-conceived, without considering all circumstances surrounding the conflict which was in a no way aggression of the state against innocent citizens. The ICC prosecutor ably responded and indicated why the petition lacked merit. The petitioners should sit down and internalise the document properly so that next time they do no waste everybody’s and their own time.
Courts of law should never be used to settle political scores. Any matter can be resolved in the Ugandan justice system but the politicians fear that they have weak cases and if local courts find no merit in them, then it would be too late to convince ICC.
The whole thing was is a time wasting gimmick to blackmail the ICC and tarnish President Museveni’s name, hoping to dent his chance at reelection. Ironically, they have campaigned for him; the world knows his record and understands that his enemies may be the architects of deliberate moves that amount to subversion hoping to cause the state to overreact and excessive use of indiscriminate power so as to secure indictments.
Personally, I don’t doubt that opposition is capable of staging anything to provoke the state and the public; anything to win sympathy or cause the fall of government. ICC should in fact look into their conduct regarding the Kasese incident and other violent outbreaks.
ICC is a high-level body that should not be used in cheap and playful projects because it has a reputation to repair and protect. It may have credibility issues here and there mostly on the perceived bias against Africans but on the whole legal principles tend to outweigh any other consideration.
The petition further failed because the movers are the wrong parties. They are active politicians who have always abused the rights of other Ugandans who do not agree with their position including President Museveni. Besigye is a well knonw political rival of Museveni who has, over time, raised spurious allegations about the Principal to a level of provocation that very few leaders in the world today would tolerate. As we talk, he is nursing something called “plan B” through which many of us know that he is plotting sinister plots which security is ready to crush and ICC is well informed with this background information.
Uganda is reputed as “an island of stability in a sea of volatility” because of the correct and people-responsive policies of the Museveni-led government. Uganda hosts the largest population of refugees in Africa, a role which has placed it among great host nations of people fleeing and persecuted in their home countries. How would so many people flee to a country with a deplorable human rights record?
Uganda is a free country where everybody enjoys their rights with dignity. But Ugandans also cherish that liberty so greatly that government cannot tolerate any group that comes around to try and distabilise that peace and freedom. To achieve that, Museveni had to sustain a liberation struggle while in government to ensure that Ugandans are safe and reaching for higher destiny. That has meant fighting off numerous insurgent groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Allied Democratic Forces) and emerging groups, many of them sponsored by politicians and enemies of progress, local and international. The Kasese conflict clearly fell in the ambit of an attempt to destabilize Uganda using illegal means.
I commend ICC for meticulously studying the matter and reaching a proper conclusion.
Africans should learn to solve their problems internally and responsibly to prevent continuing to look ridiculous in the eyes of foreigners.
The author is a Presidential Assistant in Charge of Media Management