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US, European states, Canadians protest Uganda inauguration

Western diplomats showed their dismay at President Museveni's mocking of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by walking out of his swearing-in ceremony in Kampala . Museveni called the organization "useless."

Representatives of the US, Canada and Europe walked out of Uganda's presidential inauguration on Thursday after leader Yoweri Museveni mocked the International Criminal Court (ICC). The 71-year-old was being

sworn in for his fifth term

as president of the east African nation.

Even before his comments, Museveni's inauguration was controversial not only for opposition allegations that he only won re-election by fraud, but for the appearance of Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on genocide charges, but he has repeatedly rejected the court's authority and flouted its warrant by taking trips abroad.

Although Uganda is a signatory to the ICC, Museveni derided the court as a "a bunch of useless people" during the inauguration's welcoming remarks.

At this, many Western diplomats walked out of the ceremony.

US statement

"In response to President Bashir's presence and President Museveni's remarks, the United States delegation, along with representatives of the European Union countries and Canada, departed the inauguration ceremonies to demonstrate our objection," US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told the press.

"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," Trudeau added. The United States is not a signatory of the ICC.

Museveni has ruled Uganda for thirty years. For his inauguration, the government blocked Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and other social media platforms across the country, citing security reasons. In his speech, Museveni vowed to wipe out corruption and punish inefficient bureaucrats.

Watch video 01:54

Uganda’s main opposition leader arrested

es/jm (AP, Reuters)

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