KIGALI - Botswana has defended the International Criminal Court, even as some of its continental peers threaten to revoke their membership of the tribunal they accuse of being biased against Africans.
“The best defense is not to abuse, stick to the law,” Botswana’s Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi said in an interview at an African Union summit in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. “We would never allow our president to get away with murder. We are not being prescriptive, we are just asking that we up the game.”
All 23 cases brought before the Hague-based court have been against Africans—a record that has angered a number of the continent’s leaders who are reconsidering their membership. Although the 60 nations that have ratified the Rome Statute which established the ICC are obligated to honour its warrants, at least six African members have declined to arrest visiting Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir, who’s been indicted by the court on genocide and other charges.
Botswana, which has been led by President Ian Khama’s Botswana Democratic Party since independence from the U.K. in 1966, was ranked the third-best governed country in Africa by a foundation started by Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim. Unlike several of its African peers that have squandered their mineral wealth, the diamond-rich nation has poured money into education, AIDS drugs and infrastructure.
“Our entrenched democratic dispensation instructs us that there are limits to power and we respect that,” said Masisi, who is expected to succeed Khama when his term ends in April 2018. “The test to limits to power is through open, free and fair elections. When there is strife or discomfort it affects your neighbors and the region, it affects trade, it affects prosperity and the potential for it.”