NAIROBI (Reuters) - Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on Friday called on African nations to drop out of the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, amid accusations that it unfairly targets Africans.
“I will bring a motion to the African Union’s next session. I want all of us to get out of that court of the West. Let them (Westerners) stay with their court,” he said in Swahili.
Prosecutors dropped charges of crimes against humanity against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta last week, but the trial of his deputy William Ruto on similar charges is under way at the Hague-based court.
Museveni, addressing a ceremony to mark Kenya’s 51 years of independence from Britain, criticized the ICC for continuing with Ruto’s case despite an African Union (AU) resolution that no sitting African head of state or deputy should be tried at the court.
“With connivance, they are putting Deputy President Ruto, someone who has been elected by Kenyans, in front of the court there in Europe,” he said.
The AU is scheduled to hold its annual summit of heads of state in Ethiopia at the end of January, but has not announced a specific date.
The collapse of the Kenyatta case was a blow to the court, which has secured only two convictions, both against little-known Congolese warlords, and has yet to prove it can hold the powerful to account.
Many Africans accuse the ICC of unfairly targeting their continent. Museveni said he had backed the court before it turned into a tool for “oppressing Africa”.
“I supported the court at first because I like discipline. I don’t want people to err without accountability,” he said.
“But they have turned it into a vessel for oppressing Africa again so I’m done with that court. I won’t work with them again.”
Uganda has in the past sought the assistance of the ICC in bringing rebel warlord Joseph Kony to account for war crimes in northern Uganda over two decades.
Kenyatta and Ruto also addressed the ceremony in an open-air stadium in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, saying they were confident Ruto and his co-accused would also be vindicated.
“I ask you all to join me in supporting my deputy and his co-accused as they also await their overdue vindication,” Kenyatta said.
Reporting by Duncan Miriri; editing by Andrew Roche