Congo Election Violence and the International Criminal Court
KPFA Weekend News, 12.03.2011:
Human Rights Watch reports 18 dead and 100 wounded, mostly in Kinshasa, mostly supporters of leading opposition candidate Étienne Tshisekedi, shot by sitting President Joseph Kabila's Republican Guard, during the last three days of the presidential and parliamentary election campaign, before the Congolese people began voting on November 28th. More violence is feared, and Human Rights Watch has called on Kabila's government to "immediately reign in its security forces," but International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has not responded since early November, when he issued a warning that the ICC has jurisdiction in Congo, which most interpreted as a warning to Mr. Tshisekedi.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Human Rights Watch reported that at least 18 people were shot dead and 100 wounded in the Democratic Republic of Congo's pre-election violence in the final days of the campaign, between November 26th and November 28th. The majority of those killed, they reported, were shot dead by President Kabila's Republican Guard in Congo's capital and largest city Kinshasa, which has a population of roughly 10 million. The electoral commission is stacked with sitting President Joseph Kabila's allies and EU observers have reported voting irregularities at over 70% of polling stations. Leading opposition candidate Étienne Tshisekedi has said that he will accept only a credible result, and urged his supporters to take to the streets if the result announced on Tuesday is not credible.
On November 12th, a day after Tshisekedi made a particularly defiant statement, International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo warned that the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction in Congo. However, Moreno Ocampo has not yet made a public statement regarding Kabila's military police shooting civilians.
Congolese native Eric Kamba, a social worker now with the Boston based Congolese Development Center, believes that the court has been trying to intimidate Congo’s Etienne Tshisekedi and that it’s arrest, of deposed Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, this week, was more of the same.
Eric Kamba: Laurent Gbagbo is now on trial at the International Criminal Court, facing four charges of crimes against humanity committed by his camp as recently as between December 2010 and April 2011, since he refused to concede victory to his contender in November 2010 presidential election. The same charges are going to be made against Mr. Étienne Tshisekedi, the winner of the presidential election in Congo if he contests the election that he thinks and all the Congolese think is being stolen by Mr. Kabila with the help of the international community.
KPFA: Kamba is far from the only one to say that the International Criminal Court serves as NATO's judicial wing, issuing arrest warrants only for its enemies, including extrajudicially executed Libyan President Muammar Ghaddafi, and his sons, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, and now the Ivory Coast's Laurent Bgagbo. Professor Ed Herman, independent researcher David Peterson, international criminal defense lawyers Christopher Black and Peter Erlinder, Ugandan American Newspaper Editor Milton Allimadi, and Friends of the Congo are among the many critics of the ICC’s political agenda.
Congo's election results are scheduled to be announced on Tuesday. On the ground reporters for the Times of South Africa wrote today that the country is on a knife edge, and, that there is an uneasy quiet in Kinshasa as the city braces for impending bloodshed.
Correction: ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo seems to have made his statement, that the ICC has jurisdiction in the Hague, and that it is monitoring election violence in Congo, on November 11th rather than 12th. The difference between the two days, however, makes no difference to his statement's meaning in relation to other events.