Uganda's veteran president vowed to fight corruption and inefficient bureaucracy on Thursday as he was sworn in to a fifth term in office, but some Western officials walked out of the ceremony when he mocked the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In his inaugural address, president Yoweri Museveni, 71, told heads of state, diplomats and other guests he planned to fight corruption and impose discipline on inefficient bureaucrats during his next five-year term of office, which will extend his rule to 35 years.
But Museveni offended US, European Union and Canadian officials in attendance when he criticized the ICC in his welcoming remarks as "a bunch of useless people."
Among guests at the inauguration was Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who attended despite international warrants from the ICC seeking his arrest for crimes against humanity.
"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 a briefing in Washington.
"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," Ms Trudeau said.
Museveni was re-elected to a fifth term in February after a disputed vote and protests against his rule. Authorities blocked Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and other social media, citing security concerns ahead of the inauguration ceremony in Kampala.
The president officially won 60 percent of the votes in the February election, which the opposition said was rigged. Protests erupted, leading to clashes with police and dozens of arrests. Officials say the vote was free and fair.
Since coming to power in 1986, Mr Museveni is credited with restoring order after years of chaos. But experts say the growing economy has not kept up with a rising population, while critics complain about corruption and a clampdown on dissent.