Sudanese strongman, continues to cause waves in African diplomatic circles.
First, it was sometime ago in South Africa; then, recently in the 5th inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni, two and a half weeks ago.
This time round Museveni took the occasion to lambast both the US and EU diplomats over the role of the ICC, as “useless”, over the indictments of, especially Bashir, but also by imputation, other African leaders, who are likely to come under the ICC sanctions.
The diplomats reacted by walking out from the occasion in protest. It was a diplomatic spat that raised eyebrows and also some surprising comments from a variety of quarters.
Against all indications, it is possible this is merely a diplomatic tiff between Museveni and the West jockeying for possible political and economic advantages over a host of factors.
In effect the contestants are the only ones who actually know what they are dicing for. And Museveni undiplomatically nearly let the cat out of the bag.
Take the issue of Bashir. Even while talking about the ICC, the main problem appears to be the case for Darfur.
The US “strategic” interest over the dusty, desert wasteland is the oil underneath it.
Bashir expelled the American companies that were prospecting in the area, and his recent rapport with China is that the exploitation of that oil tends to go China’s way. Obviously, the West cannot be pleaded with that.
If the ICC got Bashir to The Hague, and incarcerated him for a lifetime, it would get the West to put a person of their interest at the helm of Sudanese affairs to their advantage. One would think that it would also be in Museveni’s interest to have Bashir at the ICC, but that would not do, seeing that the case of Dominic Ongwen is going on there; and one cannot foresee a fallout from that trial to the issues facing the NRM regime and its luminaries.
The politics of oil would also be interesting, when one considers the exploitation of the oil in Bunyoro. Which way does the dollar fall?
Again, why should the US be concerned about ICC, when they are not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established it? By Museveni insulting its presence, it would be in the interest of the US and the EU, not so?
But walking out of Kololo indicates that they are in favour of the ICC that they do not subscribe to against Uganda who is a signatory, but now wants to get out of it.
This is an indication the West and Museveni are reading on a different script where the ICC is concerned, even with the Ongwen case, who was handed over to The Hague, by the Americans.
If that is the case where then is the strategic connection between the Americans and Uganda over the issue of terrorism in which both have been clear bed-fellows in Somalia?
The US has been very appreciative of the role Uganda Army (UPDF), has been playing in Somalia over all the participation of other African countries, even Kenya, that has borne the brunt of the Al Shabaab fundamentalists.
By walking out of the occasion at Kololo, was the American Ambassador indicating that they are no longer appreciative of Uganda’s efforts to confront terrorism in the region? And which African country have they now annointed to take over the place of Uganda?
Did Museveni’s abuse show that he no longer cares about the donor funding coming from the West, given the fact that more than 50% of Uganda’s budget support comes from the donations from these countries? Hardly!
Even if the US walks out of diplomatic attachment to Uganda, a county like Britain cannot do the same. Apart from the colonial historical attachment, Uganda has closer economic ties than all the other Western countries, especially through the trade tied with Kenya.
Even some Uganda luminaries have business connections with some of the bigwigs in the Conservative Party, who are ruling Britain at the moment. British Prime Minister David Cameron cannot spurn such business ties with Uganda because he would come under severe sanction by his own colleagues in the party.
That leaves the idea that Museveni was merely testing the waters of his relationships with the West. And to all intents and purposes, he would come out of it the winner.