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Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen in the Black sea resort city of Sochi, Russia, on May 24. (Mikhail Metzel/Pool/Sputnik/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)/Photo Courtesy

Forty-two former presidents and prime ministers have added their signatures to a growing list that calls for the creation of an International Anti-Corruption Court, citing both the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the loss of coronavirus funding to fraud as new evidence of the ill effects of grand corruption.

Among those signing the declaration were former leaders of Argentina, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Mexico, Peru, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and many others, according to an announcement made Wednesday by nonprofits Integrity Initiatives International and Club de Madrid.

Grand corruption — the abuse of public office for private gain by a nation’s leaders — “has global dimensions and cannot be combated by the affected countries alone,” said Danilo Turk, president of Slovenia between 2007 and 2012 and the current president of Club de Madrid, a forum for former elected world leaders. 

Though a proposal for the court was first made a decade ago, some of the signees are now explicitly linking a potential court to growing anger in Western capitals over the impact of dirty Russian money ahead of the invasion of Ukraine.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, one of the former world leaders calling for the court, wrote for the Times of London this year that Russian President Vladimir Putin needed to be brought to justice not only for the war in Ukraine but also for “three decades of deceit and corruption.”

Brown and others have added their names to a declaration that includes more than 250 high-profile figures from more than 75 countries. Sitting governments in Canada and the Netherlands have made establishing the court part of their official foreign policy, pushing the creation of the court as a vital international issue. 

“Corruption among public officials isn’t just a financial problem; it also undermines democracy and the rule of law in a country and exacerbates inequality among its people,” Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra said at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in April.

But Hoekstra also emphasized that the Netherlands, which houses the International Criminal Court in The Hague, could only establish an anti-corruption court with the support of many other nations — a level of support that is far from assured.

No former U.S. president has signed the declaration, though it was first proposed by Mark L. Wolf, a U.S. district judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan who founded Integrity Initiatives International. The United States, home to a number of secretive tax havens, is considered one of the key facilitators of international corruption. 

Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) introduced a bill that called on the United States to oppose kleptocracy around the world by supporting the development of an International Anti-Corruption Court in 2020. However, the momentum quickly fizzled due to a lack of support.

The United States has long had a fraught relationship with the International Criminal Court, with U.S. critics citing concerns about sovereignty and fears that Americans could be targeted for prosecution. Congress never ratified the 2002 Rome Statute that established the court, even though it had been signed by President Bill Clinton, putting the United States at odds with the 123 backers of the court.

After the court moved to open an investigation into possible war crimes in Afghanistan in 2019 — the first ICC investigation that could involve U.S. troops — the Trump administration sanctioned a variety of court officials, including then-prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. (The Biden administration dropped the sanctions last year.) 

The ICC has also developed a complicated reputation in Africa, since so many of the cases it has brought have been against current or former African leaders — in part due to the difficulty of bringing cases against more-powerful nations.

The invasion of Ukraine might have led to a new perspective on international justice in countries that were once skeptical.

In March, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) sponsored a bipartisan resolution that called on the United States to petition the ICC to authorize any and all “investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian Armed Forces and their proxies and President Putin’s military commanders, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin.”

The invasion has also led to new moves against corruption in Western capitals once known as accepting receivers of suspect Russian money. “Oligarchs in London will have nowhere to hide,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in February, despite the fact that many Russians accused of corrupt gains had been hiding in the British capital for decades

Though 189 countries are already party to the 2003 United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the treaty requires them only to have domestic laws criminalizing corruption. Though many do, such laws are often unenforced, while the sprawling, international nature of modern financial systems makes corruption an international issue.

The signed declaration in support of the court states that “kleptocrats enjoy impunity because they control the administration of justice in the countries that they rule.”  By The Washington Post 

 

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan speaks at the African Continental Free Trade Area offices in Accra, Ghana, on May 25, 2022. PHOTO | COURTESY | IKULU, TANZANIA

Tanzania is ready for regional integration and is in the process of completing road and railway networks with the goal of linking neighbouring countries, hence contributing to continental integration efforts, President Samia Suluhu Hassan has said.

However, the country will need more external funding to finance the construction of the next phases of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) as well as proposed highways to Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, she said on Wednesday in Ghana after receiving an award for her country’s recent infrastructure projects.

“It is my belief that with connecting the RECs (regional economic community blocs), eventually our entire continent will be connected,” she said. 

“We think that the connectivity shall play a major role within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA). 

“If we must progress, Africa must produce, process and trade within its boundaries. The connectivity must begin within our national boundaries then extend within our regional economic blocs then eventually to the entire continent.”

The AfCTA is the continental treaty meant to improve intra-African trade by eliminating barriers. It will require better trade to facilitate movement of goods. By AGGREY MUTAMBO, The East African

Opposition leader  Kizza Besigye on top of his vehicle as police tow it to Central Police Station  from Arua park in Kampala on May 24, 2022.  Photo-abubaker lubowa

 

By NANGAYI GUYSON

KAMPALA, Uganda –Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has given no relief to rising commodity prices, calling opposition calls for tax cuts "dangerous" and "suicidal," prompting Kizza Besigye, his political rival, to call for new protests.

Since May 12, Kizza Besigye, a four-time presidential contender, has renewed his mandate to call on Ugandans to pour on the streets and protest against rising commodity prices in Uganda prompting police to station outside his home to impose what they call preventive house arrest.

However, this has not stopped him from beating security at his home and ending up in downtown calling on Ugandans to wake up and protest Museveni’s four-decade regime which he says has made Ugandans poor.  

Besigye's detentions come after he called on Ugandans to "wake up" and oppose rising commodity prices, which the government blames primarily on the conflict in Ukraine, a major source of grain and edible oils.

When the war between Ukraine and Russia broke out in February this year, prices for basics commodities in Uganda went up so high with a bar of soap costing £2 and a Kilo of sugar £1.5  among others which the opposition in Uganda say the rising prices are unfair and unexplained.

Russian Ambassador to Uganda, Vladlen Semivolos, denied Uganda’s rising commodity prices to be connected to Russian and Ukraine war say the rising prices can only be due to negative effects of Covid-19 outbreak.

Besigye has been a vocal critic of longtime President Yoweri Museveni's regime. Following the 2011 presidential election, his "Walk to Work" protest movement, which was partly inspired by rising commodity prices, was ruthlessly put down within months.

Besigye's present detention has enraged his supporters, and activists and others are calling for the government to interfere, maybe by reducing levies on everything from cooking oil to gas. However, authorities are dismissing this possibility and advising citizens to tighten their belts.

In a recent address, Museveni, an authoritarian who has been in power since 1986, advised Ugandans to substitute cassava for bread, claiming that the widely produced root tuber is a healthier option. Many people scoffed at this.

"If you can, produce more. We should utilize these imported commodities sparingly or find alternatives," Museveni urged in a speech on Sunday.

Many Ugandans still admire Museveni, who was previously lauded as part of a new generation of African presidents and a longtime US security friend, for providing relative stability to this East African country. Critics claim Museveni is becoming increasingly reliant on the security forces to stay in power.

The United States and others have recently expressed concern about alleged torture by security officials who are also suspected of kidnapping opposition supporters.

Opposition leaders not ready to join Besigye on the streets

NUP Party

Alex Waiswa Mufumbiro, the NUP's Deputy Spokesperson, told the IEA exclusively that the party cannot join Besigye in his protests.

"We have other options to oust the dictator." We will not use Dr. Besigye's protests, but we wish him well," Mufumbiro stated.

However, while speaking to the press later, Dr. Kizza Besigye's protest against Uganda's high cost of living received backing from NUP leader Robert Kyagulanyi.

Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, the president of the National Unity Platform (NUP), has expressed his solidarity with Dr. Kizza Besigye, the head of the People's Front for Transition (PFT).

"Standing in solidarity with you, Dr. Kizza Besigye, as you enter your fifth day of house arrest as a punishment for daring to demonstrate against the growing cost of living."

DP Party

Even though he and the Democratic Party support the cause, Democratic Party President Nobert Mao says he did not join Col. Kiiza Besigye in his protest against rising commodity prices. Mao reiterates that the Democratic Party supports constitutionally protected protests.

ANT Party

The Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) has admitted that their structures cannot support a protest for even one day. Ms. Alice Alaso, ANT's head of administration, stated that they are employing other modes of protest since they are unsure that their structures can sustain a protest for even one day.

"We're employing different kinds of protest because we're not sure if our structures can maintain a protest on the streets for even one day," Ms. Alaso explained.

Ugandan police detain opposition figures in their homes on a regular basis, claiming that they can use preventive arrest to protect public calm.

President Uhuru Kenyatta joins national leaders, the clergy and invited guests at the 19th National Annual Prayer Breakfast at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.
Image: PSCU
 
In Summary

• The President who previously shared a table with his deputy and speakers of the National Assembly and Senate sat on a different table.

• This time around, Uhuru shared his table with Chief Justice Martha Koome and Attorney General Paul Kihara.

 

The discord between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto was at play once again as they both graced the National prayer breakfast.

The President who previously shared a table with his deputy and speakers of the National Assembly and Senate sat on a different table.

This time around, Uhuru shared his table with Chief Justice Martha Koome and Attorney General Paul Kihara. 

DP Ruto, on the other hand, shared his table with speakers Kenneth Lusaka and Justin Muturi, who are both members of his Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

The two speakers are the hosts of the national prayer breakfast.

Uhuru and Ruto do not see eye-to-eye and have in the last three public meetings avoided shaking hands.

The two have been embroiled in a public spat that revealed the deep discord in the Jubilee administration.

This began soon after the head of state had a handshake with former Prime minister Raila Odinga.

The Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate did not attend the prayer meeting.

The national prayer breakfast saw a section of MPs allied to the two rival camps, Azimio la Umoja and Kenya Kwanza Alliance displayed a show of unity as they presented a song during the prayer meeting held at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi. 

The MPs choir was led by nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura and they sang the song, 'Guide me O thou great Jehovah'. By 

BRIAN ORUTA, The Star

 

An investigation into the events surrounding recent elections in Kenya provides a bleak outlook for this August’s general election. More details emerge on the souring of the relationship between Kenya and Idemia, the provider of biometric voting equipment and data holder for the Kenyan electorate, along with alleged incompetence on the part of the electoral commission.

Originally brought in to restore Kenyans’ faith in elections, biometrics could mire yet another election, according to the investigation.

Lighthouse Reports (‘Biometrics and the Enslavement of African Elections’), Africa Uncensored (‘Kenya’s 2022 Election: Is the Past a Prelude?’) and Le Monde (‘Inquiry into Failures of Electoral Biometrics in Kenya’) collaborated to investigate the details of the 2013 and 2017 elections, the latter being particularly fraught, as well as bringing the story to the present, three months out from the third biometric general election, already looking problematic.

In a nutshell, and as Biometric Update has reported over the years, ahead of the 2013 elections, the country’s first which involved biometrics, a tender was held which Idemia (then Safran Identity and Security) won. Idemia supplied equipment used to register more than 14 million Kenyans and despite a problematic election, Idemia “came out unscathed and holding the data of 14.3 million Kenyan voters” (Africa Uncensored) even though the election result was disputed by the Supreme Court.

In the run up to 2017, Kenya bought fresh equipment from Idemia (still Safran at this point), which still held the electorate’s data. This cost almost US$40 million. The system is intended to electronically transmit the results of each polling station to Nairobi. On polling day in 2017, the system failed, and opposition leader disputed the results. The Supreme Court annulled the election, which was rerun 60 days later.

The National Assembly recommended a ten-year ban on contracts with Idemia. The High Court overturned this and electoral commission announced it would once again use Idemia kit for 2022 and was paying Idemia for updates as of 2020.

Details have emerged as for as far back as 2013. The French Embassy in Nairobi used its influence to ensure Idemia was picked, despite being ranked second, alleges Africa Uncensored.

Suggesting something untoward within the electoral commission, “a member of the 2017 commission commented that commissioners were being ‘managed’ into selecting Safran as the vendor the IEBC [Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission] would procure directly from,” reports Africa Uncensored.

Idemia firmly rejects any allegations of wrongdoing.

New threats to a peaceful election

The path to the 2022 election has been fraught. The news that Idemia would once again supply equipment led to heavy criticism.

The new investigation shows how voter registration was successful, but the IEBC was then unable to port voter details onto the tablets or have full access to the 2017 register. The new supplier of the Kenyan Integrated Election Management System is Smartmatic (which lost the 2013 tender to Safran) and Idemia allegedly declined to cooperate, claiming the IEBC owed it money for accessing the data.

Idemia’s claim for payment from the IEBC is among others for the 2017 election. “IEBC CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan now says that the IEBC and Smartmatic now have full access to Kenya’s voter register and use of the Morpho Tablets, but says that out of Idemia’s full claim, only 86 million shillings (705,557 Euro) is payable [of the 139-million-shilling claim],” reports Africa Uncensored.

“The claim itself, and the fact that Idemia could, for a time, withhold Kenyan citizens’ data raises very serious questions about the IEBC’s contract with Idemia, a contract that has never been made public.”

The three reports detail allegations of mismanagement on the part of the electoral commission and the dangers of errors on any part leading to negative publicity, and triggering fake news in a tense setting ahead of the next election.

“As the global leader in Identity technologies, Idemia operates from over 180 countries and has a longstanding presence in Africa including Kenya,” a representative of Idemia told Biometric Update in an email responding to the reports.

“The facts on this case have been made public since 2017. No new facts have emerged since then. In 2020, The High Court decision confirmed IDEMIA has not violated any law in Kenya and its ability to continue its lawful operations in Kenya.

“Idemia and all its employees are proud to have been able to successfully fulfill their engagements to support Kenyan democracy, and humbly reaffirm today how positively it can consider the outcome of both 2017 elections, as it has been publicly stated by the International Community observers (UE, Carter Center, etc.). The Software Development Kit (SDK), firmware and drivers of the 45,000 KIEMS kits procured in 2017 are not part of the deliverables of the KIEMS contract. Nevertheless, even if the company did not wish to participate in the tenders related to the next general elections scheduled for 2022 and taking into account the tight deadlines the IEBC is facing, and lack of response from Smartmatic International B.V., Idemia delivered this SDK to the IEBC at no cost on March 31st 2022.”

Lighthouse Reports also carries this statement from the company: “All the internal and external audits – which are otherwise accessible – carried out on our services have confirmed that the company has fulfilled its obligations in accordance with its commitments.” - Frank Hersey, BiometricUpdate.com

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