By Henry D Gombya in London, Julius Odeke-Onyango and Jessica A Badebye in Kampala
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli has called upon the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ‘lock up’ his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for the ordering of extrajudicial killings that took place in Kasese, Western Uganda last weekend.
In condemning the Ugandan leader, Dr Magufuli once again broke diplomatic protocol by seeming to interfere in the internal affairs of a sister country. But tell that to the relatives of those killed in what has now come to be known as the Kasese Massacres. Mugufuli’s intervention is surely music to their ears. The Tanzanian leader who came to power early this year, had just recently condemned corruption in Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government and there are unconfirmed rumours that he is considering breaking ties with Kenya, a move that would create political upheaval in East Africa.
Until now, African leaders have looked away as their colleagues have now and then committed gross human rights abuses. Speaking in Swahili, his country’s national language, Dr Magufuli said: “Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki yaitaji aina ya viongozi walio na hekima na utu. Rais wa Uganda Bw Museveni ni aibu kubwa sana kwa Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki. ICC yapaswa kumfunga Museveni kwa mauaji yaotokea huko Kasese (East African Community needs respectable leaders who also have wisdom… The president of Uganda, Mr Museveni, is a disgrace in the East African Community. ICC should imprison him for the killings that took place in Kasese).”
Dr Magufuli becomes the only one of four East African leaders, excluding Museveni, who has come out to openly condemn last weekend’s killings of a constitutional leader’s palace guards that left at least 65 people killed and hundreds arrested, although unconfirmed reports say the death toll is much higher. This is not the first time that Tanzanian leaders have found it right to interfere in Uganda’s personal affairs. In 1987, then President Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the country’s revered leader and respectively referred to as ‘the Father of the Nation’ offered his country’s troops to Ugandan exiles based in his country and invaded Uganda resulting in the overthrow of yet another Ugandan dictator, Gen Idi Amin.