“Uganda not worried of exposure at Bemba trial”

The International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor, Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo, arrived in Uganda on Saturday to consult with government on the arrest warrants of Lords Resistance Army leaders and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Minister for International Affairs also Henry Okello said Ocampo discussed with top government officials involved in international justice issues among others Jean Pierre Bemba’s case.

Uganda Minister for International Affairs Henry Okello Oryem and ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo addressiing the press in Kampala on July 13. Rosebell Kagumire photo.
Uganda Minister for International Affairs Henry Okello Oryem and ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo addressiing the press in Kampala on July 13. Rosebell Kagumire photo.

Much as the attention seems to be going to Gen. Bashir’s expected visit to Uganda on July 27 for the 2009 Smart Partnership Dialogue in Kampala, I dwelt on what the government stakes are as the Congolese ex-Vice-President Bemba, whom they supported for long, faces war crimes charges. The ICC ruled in June that Bemba had to answer to war crimes charges for the actions of his troops in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003. He is to face trial on three counts of war crimes and two of crimes against humanity.

He led the Movement for the Liberation of Congo which was a major player in the Congo’s long civil war. Some of his lawyers have hinted that Bemba’s charges may be politically motivated, to remove him from future politics of the DRC.  He lost a landmark run-off election against President Joseph Kabila in 2006 and in 2007 he fled the country after he was charge with treason.  Uganda comes into the picture because they supported Jean-Pierre Bemba, whose rebel forces at one time held nearly one third of Congolese territory. Uganda is alleged to have armed Bemba’s group and helped train his fighters who are implicated in this case at the Hague. Many people have been critical of the reluctance by the ICC to expose what Uganda’s role was and to what extent it led to the mayhem in the Congo. Uganda has come up many times in the trial of Thomas Lubanga and it is expected to come up as Bemba stands trial.

This is what Minister Okello Oryem has to say.

“We discussed the issue of Bemba. We are saying that the Bemba case should be properly handled so that it doesn’t cause a backlash in the DRC. DRC is unstable as it is and we don’t want the supporters of Bemba to think that he’s being prosecuted as an individual because of his differences with Kabila. But it should be understood that Bemba is being prosecuted because of the crimes that were committed under his leadership.”

On Uganda’s role in Bemba’s rebellion:

“There’s no secret that Uganda supported Bemba in the past but now that he is being prosecuted in the courts of law Uganda has got no authority or power to intervene in this case. If he’s innocent it will be proved in the court.

We have nothing to hide we are not going to lose sleep over anything because there’s nothing that we did with Bemba which is wrong. And there’s nothing we did with Bemba that was a cause of him committing the kind of crimes he’s being prosecuted against.”

Reaction to Obama Accra speech on Global Voices


My best part of the analysis African Blood’ Saved Obama From Scrutiny in Ghana.

“In sheer American fashion, Obama explained boldly that he picked Ghana because of the West African nation’s “democratic commitment.” 

While Kenyans, Nigerians, South Africans and others were searching their souls, Ghanaians were preparing to do what we Africans do best: dress in colorful attire, sing, dance and chant in praise of presidents.

Although other African countries found their souls very quickly -– “democratic commitment” is such a clear message –- they couldn’t do so in time for Obama to add them to his itinerary.”

I need to hear from you. Do you think African blood saved Obama from scrutiny much more than the blood gave him an edge to chide African governements the proper way that no other outsider can afford without being percieved as being abusive?

My favourite part of the speech was when told African youth that this is their moment. The youth for instance in Uganda make more than 60 percent of the population yet they are the most left behind in political participation, in employment and I think if this country is improve the youth must get out of their comfort or uncomfort zones.

Here’s the part:

“Fifty-two years ago, the eyes of the world were on Ghana. And a young preacher named Martin Luther King traveled here, to Accra, to watch the Union Jack come down and the Ghanaian flag go up. This was before the march on Washington or the success of the civil rights movement in my country. Dr. King was asked how he felt while watching the birth of a nation. And he said: “It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice.”

Now, that triumph must be won once more, and it must be won by you. And I am particularly speaking to the young people. In places like Ghana, you make up over half of the population. Here is what you must know: the world will be what you make of it. You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities, and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, end conflicts, and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move.”