Tanzania, Uganda against ICC Burundi probe

KAMPALA – Uganda and Tanzania have expressed their displeasure about the decision by the International Criminal Court to start probing the government of Burundi for war crimes.

Tanzanian president John Pombe Magufuli and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni on Saturday said the planned ICC probe against the government of Burundi would jeopardise the negotiations between the government and the opposition.

A statement from the Tanzanian presidency said Magufuli and Museveni condemned the move, during a meeting in western Uganda.

Mugufuli had been on the three-day state visit in Uganda. “President Magufuli said this decision compromised efforts by the East African Community, which has put in place a committee charged with seeking a resolution to the Burundi conflict, led by President Yoweri Museveni and former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa,” said the statement.

Museveni, who is the chairman of the East African Community is the also the mediator of the Burundian peace process.  He said ICC was interfering in the affairs of the Burundi.

Magufuli said “the situation in Burundi is not as bad as it has been described (by the ICC) because numerous Burundian refugees have already returned home”, said the statement.

On Thursday, the ICC said it still retains jurisdiction over the situation even though Burundi’s withdrawal from the ICC Rome Statute came into effect on 27 October 2017.

Jelena Pia-Comella, the deputy executive director of the Coalition for the ICC said the court was responding to a crisis that has seen thousands killed or disappeared and up to 500,000 fleeing to neighbouring countries, creating further instability in a region that is still emerging from the horrors of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

The Hague-based court says widespread and systemic patterns of violations were allegedly conducted by state security forces against civilians opposed to President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in office.

The crimes, according to ICC, have been widely documented by United Nations investigators and civil society organizations, “who themselves have been subject to severe repression”.

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