Your Most Reliable and Dependable Source

African Political Leadership Running Scared of the ICC


African political leaders are a ‘special breed.’  I ruefully accord them that ignoble label because they are corrupt, inept and averse to good governance.  Collectively responsible for the continent’s intractable problems of poverty, economic stagnation and human rights abuses, they are quick to pounce on anyone who dares to question their competence and judgment.  

It was thus no wonder that at the recently concluded confab in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, marking the 50th anniversary of the African Union, the International Criminal Court came in for a stinging rebuke.  The Court in the last decade has successfully prosecuted and indicted African leaders accused of committing crimes against humanity.

The accusations leveled against the ICC ran the gamut from incompetence and racial bias. Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn who is also the current Chairman of the AU set the tone with his absurd assertion that the ICC is racially bias and selectively targets Africans for prosecution.  

Referring to the ICC’s mandate, Desalegn said, “The intention was to avoid any kind of impunity but now the process has degenerated into some kind of race-hunting. So we object to that.”  

Chiming in, Ramtane Lamamra, AU’s Peace and Security Chief said, “It is not a court of the North to try leaders from the South.” In other words, Lamamra would rather the rich and advanced western world (the north) turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in the south (the developing world).

Kenya even had the audacity to suggest that the ICC refer its cases against its recently elected President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto for alleged crimes against humanity back to Kenya. Would the victims of the tribal violence in 2007 get justice?

Kenya reels of unbridled corruption and any notion that justice will be served is far-fetched. In the aftermath of the bloodletting, Kenyan lawmakers failed repeatedly to set up a local tribunal and the police and judiciary failed to even begin investigations of their own.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister’s and the AU’s Peace and Security Chief’s assertions and Kenya’s mindboggling proposal reflect the AU’s mindset which sees the ICC as a menace to the independence and sovereignty of African nations and a tool of the West to rein in renegade African leaders.

Of course, African leaders are entitled to their opinion about the ICC. However, the bloviating that went on in the Ethiopian capital was clearly an attempt at self- preservation by a group that hitherto enjoyed unprecedented impunity from prosecution for crimes against their own people.  The ruthless dictator, General Iddi Amin’s atrocities immediately come to mind; he was never prosecuted for the crimes he committed against ordinary Ugandans. Instead, he was granted political asylum in Saudi Arabia where he lived out his years in opulence.

I find it hard to understand the AU’s sudden hostility towards the International Criminal Court. After all, a third of the Court’s member states are African and since its inception, African countries have publicly supported the ICC’s investigations of crimes in Darfur, Libya, the Ivory Coast and Kenya. So, in all cases, African states have been significant players in inviting the ICC.

The ICC no doubt has its shortcomings, but the successful prosecution of deviant African leaders charged with crimes against humanity has destroyed the culture of impunity that is so pervasive in Africa. At the very least, the prosecution reassures victims of tribal violence and other forms of violence that ultimately, justice will be served no matter how long it takes to get the perpetrators……and lest we forget, International law has a long arm that stretches across national boundaries.



Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.