Washington (AFP) – The United States on Thursday condemned Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni for hosting war crimes suspect Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir at his re-inauguration.
A spokeswoman for the State Department said US, EU and Canadian diplomats had walked out of Thursday’s ceremony in Kampala in protest as Bashir’s presence.
“The United States has made its position with respect to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s travel very clear,” Elizabeth Trudeau said.
“We’re concerned that President Bashir has been able to travel to Uganda,” she added.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
States in theory has an obligation to arrest ICC suspects on their territory, but African leaders are increasingly resentful of its authority.
During his speech Museveni dubbed the ICC a “bunch of useless people” as Bashir nodded in agreement and leaders from Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe looked on.
“President Museveni made disparaging remarks about the ICC in front of attendees, including other heads of state,” Trudeau said.
“In response to President Bashir’s presence and President Museveni’s remarks, the United States delegation, along with representatives of the European Union countries and Canada, departed the inauguration ceremonies to demonstrate our objections.”
The swearing-in ceremony was the fifth since Museveni took power in 1986 at the head of a rebel army.