By Tafi Mhaka
So President Uhuru Kenyatta felt the urge to report the USA to the International Criminal Court of Justice (ICC) for post-election violence. He felt “tempted” to be precise. Not that you or I or indeed President Kenyatta has seen or heard reports of violence in the largely peaceful demonstrations against the election of Donald Trump taking place in the USA.
President Kenyatta made his remarks at the 2nd Annual Diplomatic Forum in Uganda and he offered the world his trademark laughter as part of a rather staid stand-up act. But it was not just President Kenyatta who found his terrible witticism something funny to laugh at though: the audience comprising diplomats clearly found humour in his crass remarks as laughter could be heard in the background.
Dear me: the things I am tempted to say about his carefree admission at this early junction are wholly unprintable for good reason. But suffice it to say should I need comic relief on TV I would rather get my gags from Trevor Noah or Kevin Hart if not Chris Rock or Eddie Murphy.
I am also tempted to say he must enjoy being at liberty to have a laugh at the spectre of post-election violence in the USA when up to 1200 people may have died in Kenya after a hotly disputed election in 2007 and he had to defend himself in Geneva after the ICC indicted him for committing crimes against humanity.
The ICC dropped the charges against President Kenyatta after the Kenyan government simply refused to supply it with evidence pertinent to his case. At the time, Human Rights Watch, the New york-based advocacy group, said the government of Kenya was guilty of “impairing the search for the truth”.
So I am tempted to state that it is not so presidential of man in his position to make light of political violence on Ugandan TV. Uganda itself has had its share of post-election violence in the past. At least 31 people died in post-election violence in the south western Uganda districts of Kasese and Bundibugyo; 10,000 people displaced after 366 of their houses were torched, in politically motivated violence. The fighting erupted after the results for local council elections were published.
It is tempting to conclude President Kenyatta had planned this sick joke of his well in advance of his appearance at the Diplomatic Forum. But that is the real problem here is it not when a leading statesman such as Kenyatta has the gall to find pleasure in people dying simply for voting for or against this or that party or candidate?
Uhuru means freedom in Swahili and I am tempted to remind President Kenyatta of the crises he might want to report to the ICC should his memory be a little rusty from all the terrible jokes swirling in his head.
I am tempted to tell him about the Africans who are struggling to break loose from the shackles of injustices that are restraining their hopes of a bright future in parts of Central Africa and the Sahel region.
I am tempted to tell him of the more than 2500 migrants who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Many are Africans who are desperate to flee indigent social, political and economic conditions in their homelands.
I am tempted to ask him if has plans to negotiate a solid and lasting peace deal in South Sudan or does he plan to refer the leaders responsible for the deaths of more than 500 people in violence between troops loyal to President Salvir Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar this year alone to the ICC.
It is tempting to ask if he will report the The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) to the ICC. This group of rebels, which operates in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan, is on a United Nations list of armed groups which stand accused of committing grave violations against children by forcible recruiting minors to become soldiers. Although the group, which is waging a war against the government of Sudan strongman Omar al-Bashir, has pledged to stop the forcible recruitment of child soldiers, its pledge to do so remains to be tested in the months ahead.
It is tempting to know if President Kenyatta has heard about the 150 peaceful pro-Biafra protestors killed by security forces in Southeast Nigeria. Amnesty International says the “the military fired live ammunition with little or no warning” at unarmed protestors between August 2015 – August 2016. Might President Kenyatta be tempted to make fun of this too or refer Nigeria to the ICC?
It is tempting to ask him if he has plans to refer Egypt to the Security Council for the prolonged detention of thousands of Pro-Morsi political prisoners. And I am tempted to ask President Kenyatta if he will ask President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi to release hordes of journalists languishing in Egyptian jails on spurious charges.
I am tempted to ask him if President Kenyatta has plans to speak to President Joseph Kabila about the mounting political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where elections have been postponed until April 2018 in a move that keeps the incumbent in power. The constitution bars Kabila from seeking a third term in office and opposition leaders think the president is stalling for time. I am tempted to ask President Kenyatta to challenge President Kabila to make a public announcement declaring that he will not seek a third term in office in public in 2018.
I am tempted to ask President Kenyatta if he has had time to mull over the serious political tensions in Ethiopia where more than 500 people have died in clashes between government and mainly Oromo and Amhara protestors who are unhappy about forced relocations and unjust representation in government affairs.
Will President Kenyatta have a quiet word with his Ethiopian counterpart about this matter or will he be tempted to report him to the ICC?