Immunity for ex-leaders normal, says Geingob

WINDHOEK - President Hage Geingob yesterday said there was nothing untoward about ex-leaders seeking immunity from prosecution � except where crimes against humanity are suspected.

Geingob, who is also Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) chairperson, made the remarks at State House during a one-day working visit to Namibia by new Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi yesterday.

President Geingob was responding to questions by journalists on reports that President Tshisedeki has struck a deal with his predecessor Joseph Kabila, guaranteeing the latter's immunity from prosecution.

The deal apparently guarantees Kabila immunity from prosecution for any crimes alleged to have been committed during his 18-year rule.

Human rights groups have often criticised DRC security forces of, on Kabila's supposed watch, violations including killings and kidnappings of perceived opponents.

The deal will also see an amendment to the constitution that will result in future DRC presidents being elected through parliament, according to reports.

Media reports suggest that the deal guaranteeing immunity from prosecution was facilitated by Kenya. Tanzania and Egypt are other witnesses but South Africa allegedly refused to endorse it because Kabila rejected former president Thabo Mbeki as a mediator with the opposition.

South Africa insisted she first wants thorough details of the agreement and its implications on the Congolese before committing to it.

As you know we have three waves of African leaders. You have extraordinary personalities of Kwame Nkrumah them, the second phase was the coup one-party states, and now this wave is democracy, said Geingob.

That time, former leaders had to go into exile, go in jail, now we have to provide conducive conditions because of peaceful transfer of power so that those former presidents have to be respected unless they have committed a crime, Geingob reacted.

Geingob cited Namibia as an example of the new dispensation that guarantees immunity to former leaders.

Immunities meaning to be given privileges. It's in America, it's everywhere. There is nothing strange. President Kabila said 'I am not going to stand'. We all welcomed that. He organised elections as a sovereign country, which was smooth and peaceful enough.

Somebody [President Tshisekedi] was elected and announced by DRC people and a person aggrieved who was defeated [Martin Fayulu] went to court and the court of that country ruled. So, who are you, who I am to question that? Don't question that, Geingob remarked.

Chipping in on the alleged deal with Kabila, President Tshisekedi responded that the deal he struck with Kabila was about transition of power in DRC.

We are very careful about it and we are having discussions. Soon Cabinet will be informed on the outcome. But I will ensure there is a good code of conduct to have a coalition to run the country, Tshisekedi said through an interpreter.

Critics in DRC feel that Kabila is afraid of being prosecuted for the crimes committed during is reign, hence his insistence on immunity.

As part of his tenure, Tshisekedi said his first objective is to bring peace to DRC. He said for almost 20 years, DRC did not have peace, adding that maladministration led to corruption.

We are determined to resort the administration to give a place to restore law and justice in the country. During the campaign the theme was centered around people, hence we must give them good social conditions. We should first ensure that education is fundamental to uplift people's lives, he promised.

He also promised to tackle increased corruption head-on in his country.

The DRC leader thanked Geingob for the support he gave through the troubles the country faced during the election period.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia