U.S. Diplomats Walked Out of Ugandan Ceremony Over ICC Comments

Representatives of the U.S., Canada and the European Union walked out of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s inauguration in protest at his comments on the International Criminal Court and the presence of Sudan’s leader, the State Department said.

Museveni, 71, was sworn in for a fifth term Thursday in the capital, Kampala, in the presence of other veteran African presidents including Sudan’s Umar al-Bashir. The latter has been indicted by the ICC for alleged war crimes in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, prompting calls from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for Ugandan authorities to arrest him.

Museveni dismissed the court in comments made at his inauguration. “We have lost interest in ICC,” he said, describing it as “a useless body.”

The U.S. delegation and representatives of the EU and Canada “departed the inauguration ceremonies to demonstrate our objection,” State Department spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters in Washington on Thursday, according to an online transcript.

“We believe that walking out in protest is an appropriate reaction to a head of state mocking efforts to ensure accountability for victims of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, particularly when his country has committed to accountability as a state party to the Rome Statute,” she said.

The U.S. isn’t party to the statute, which established the ICC, but strongly supports the court’s efforts to hold people accountable for alleged crimes in Darfur, Trudeau said.

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