BY: Justin Ambago Ramba, UK, MAY/28/2013, SSN;
No wonder that the elections season has begun in Africa’s newest country of South Sudan and it’s now every ones talk how the incumbent president is for sure going to make it head to head with his vice in case no other third or fourth contestants show up in the last minutes. It is against such a background that this article would try to shade light on the country’s latest developments, the last being the president’s infamous declaration never to allow his new country be a signatory to the Rome Statute. In other words he is opposed to joining the International Criminal Court (ICC)!!
As a South Sudanese myself- allow me to begin by registering my condemnation of what came in President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s speech on the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU in Addis Ababa. The leader whose country is the newest member of this historical African body expressed his disapproval of the ICC by sarcastically stating in his addressing speech that although many African states were the first to sign the Rome statute, unfortunately the thing has now caught up with them as is the case with president Uhuru Kenyatta and his vice William Ruto of the republic of Kenya who took office after winning a March election while under indictment from the ICC for inciting some of the ethnic violence that followed their country’s disputed 2007 vote.
Given the historical background and the geographical location of South Sudan, Uhuru Kenyatta, who pledged the creation of roads, rail and pipelines to deepen economic ties between Kenya and the new nation, is neither the first nor the only ICC indicted head of state to do business with the country.
Juba still struggling to settle many post secession issues with it’s on and off foes in Khartoum, had already gone on record for laying red carpets to another ICC indicted president – no other than Omer al Bashir of Sudan – who also presided over this region until the 9th of July 2011 when South Sudan became officially an independent republic.
President Kiir in a characteristic show of bravado dismissed the ICC and as if to show off to his guest President Kenyatta who paid his first visit to Juba by echoing the ongoing statements by other African leaders that the court seems to target Africans.
Let’s us face it – the African continent had suffered from ethnically driven politics and still continues to do so under the types of Salva kiir, Yoweri Museveni, Omer al Bashir, Robert Mugabe, Paul Kagame and of course Uhuru Kenyatta himself who is an up to date living example of a tribal politician.
The history of how the ICC came into being is a clear one and no doubt that many African countries have approved it. In the same vein many African countries than any other; now lead the list of those who voluntarily referred their cases to the ICC due to their countries’ incapability to handle the cases. This was the case with Uganda, the DR. Congo and the Central African Republic (CAR).
The case on the Sudan was on the other hand referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council since the country hasn’t rectified the Rome statue although being an initial signatory to it.
The argument that the ICC only targets African leaders or people can only bother those who commit crimes against humanity with impunity in Africa and they happen to be heads of states or people high in the governments of their countries or some powerful warlords.
This being the case the current focus of the ICC on African situations when seen in its right context also means a focus on African victims. And if you or your loved ones are those at the receiving end of this gross injustice in this continent, then lie assured that the ICC is serving you. Maybe often perceived to be very slow – yet it’s the best you can ever get in this unfair world.
Of course African leaders have to be concern about Africa’s dignity. Nobody opposes that, but we are saying that it cannot come at the expense of the very justice that these leaders often deny their people.
Take the example of a country like South Sudan and look at its Justice, law enforcement and Judiciary systems. For no penny it won’t take you long enough before you find out that its president’s attack on the ICC is entirely baseless and can better be described as no more than a copycat type of behaviour.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, his vice William Ruto and another Joshua arap Sang, the three have their cases now in front of the ICC judges. This is their cross to carry and shouldn’t in anyway be made to look as if their appearance before the ICC is in any way degrading to the African continent.
There was that talk about local courts or even AU hybrid courts being suggested by others as alternative courts to try some of the low profiled indictees in crimes against humanity committed in Sudan’s western Region and it didn’t work. So why are some people suggesting the same route at the AU by demanding that Uhuru Kenyatta and his group be referred for trial at local Kenyan courts ?
The Kenyan indictees of the ICC know their roles in the 2007 massacre and they are aware as anyone else is – that it takes a lot of money and leadership without which such well – orchestrated violence wouldn’t have taken place. This we have learned from the Rwanda genocide.
Why are we not grateful to The ICC which through its actions have worked the magic to bring Kenyatta and Ruto together and thus prevented another post elections massacre in the 2013 elections? Yes it is so; no way can one go all the way to say that because the enemies of 2007 are now “good” friends then, the court should as well scratch off their cases. This is not justice!
There is no such a thing like “African Justice” or “European Justice” or “Asian Justice” – there is only one “Universal Justice” which must abhor not only international economic injustice, but must be uncompromising against all forms of crimes against humanity.
Coming back to our incumbent president of RSS, Salva Kiir Mayardit and his rekindled ambition for yet another term in office, after securing the backing of his home region of Bahr al Ghazal on the back drop of a tribal numerical size, he can as well proceed to prepare for all sorts of ethnically-directed malicious activities before, at and after the 2015 elections.
Nonetheless a unanimous backing for Kiir’s candidature by citizens of Greater Bahr al Ghazel is a thing easily said than can be verified before the real elections. The widespread resentment for his leadership is vivid in Western Bahr al Ghazel State where dozens of citizens were massacred by government security agents during a peaceful demonstration in the city of Wau town on 9th December 2012.
Based on the generally poor performance of the judiciary and law enforcement in the new country, president Kiir’s declared position to keep the country out of ICC membership is justifiably seen by a large section of the population as one of his many attempts to block off any chance of justice for the victims of the countless crimes committed under this government.
A keen observer can’t rule out the possibility that president Kiir has it in his plan to use the country’s non membership of the ICC in order to secure impunity for a likely post 2015 general elections violence in the country.
Given the back ground of what happened during and after the 2010 elections when all independent and non SPLM candidates and their supporters were subjected to wide range of harassments, mistreatment, torture and detentions the average citizen is convinced that the president and his die-hard tribal base is capable of carrying out all kinds of unlawful acts just to keep him in office.
Regardless of all these noise about some quitting the ICC while others don’t even want to join it, the truth is that many countries and communities especially those with weak legal institutions and power hungry leaders like South Sudan, Kenya Uganda, Rwanda, DRC, CAR, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and many others are bound to benefit from the ICC.
It is true that birds of the same feather fly together, and no wonder that despite the bitter enmity that exists between Museveni (Uganda) and Kiir (South Sudan) on one side and al Bashir (Sudan) on the other end, yet they have one thing in common, and that’s their greed for power. These people see in the ICC a threat to their plans to keep to power while they kill their kinsmen with impunity.
Can we the down-trodden peoples of Africa do something to save our countries by not voting again for these persons who persistently continue to deny us our most basic human rights and freedoms?
We must stop all these tyrants from running this continent as if it was their personally property.The bottom line is that if a country is a member of the United Nations, then there is no way that the leaders who commit crimes against humanity can escape the ICC! Stop all these rubbish about quitting or not joining.
Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General – United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org