Uganda has finally decided to remain in the International Criminal Court, after years of threats to withdraw from the Hague-based court.
Uganda’s Speaker of parliament, Mrs. Rebecca Kadaga reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the Rome Statute that established the ICC.
President Yoweri Museveni had publicly taken exception to the court’s indictment of a sitting African head of state.
A Uganda parliament statement said Kadaga reassured the President of the ICC that Uganda will not withdraw from the Rome Statute, but will continue working with the ICC.
Kadaga made the remarks in the Netherlands, at the commemoration of the 20 years of the Rome Statute, and cleared any doubts as to the Ugandan government’s commitment to the court.
“I also want to reassure you that because of that collaboration, we are the first country to issue a reference for arbitration to the ICC, and we have continued to cooperate to date.
“Of course, we are part of the African Union and there have sometimes been difficult situations between the ICC and the African Union. There are areas of reservations” – a reference to a February 2017 African Union decision to withdraw from the ICC.
Uganda voted in favour of the withdrawal after a divisive motion sponsored by Kenya was debated by the heads of state summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The ICC has always criticised Uganda for warming up to Sudanese President Omar Bashir, who is wanted by the court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur.
Kadaga described Bashir as “an important actor” in the region, stressing his centrality in prospects for peace in the war-torn and volatile South Sudan.
Uganda stands for a position where “justice is not sacrificed at the altar of peace, and peace is not sacrificed at the altar of justice”, according to Kadaga.
During the first inauguration of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Museveni said Africa supported the court in the spirit of abhorring impunity, but that the court has since “lost track and is being used as a tool of foreign domination”.
Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto became the first-ever sitting heads of government to appear before the court, although charges against the duo were later dropped for lack of evidence.
Meanwhile, Burundi and South Africa had formally written to the ICC seeking withdrawal, but are yet to withdraw from the court.
The court has suffered heavy criticism for allegedly “only targeting African leaders”, a claim the ICC persistently denies.