April 24, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir will not be invited to the inauguration ceremony of the South African president-elect Jacob Zuma, according to news reports.
- South Africa President Jacob Zuma (AP)
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) headed by Zuma has an absolute majority in general polls paving the way for the parliament to elect him as the new head of state in an early May vote.
The UK based ‘Times’ newspaper citing unidentified South African diplomatic sources reported that Zuma indicated that Bashir will not be welcome at his inauguration on May 9, and that he could even risk arrest and deportation to International Criminal Court (ICC).
Last month the ICC judges officially charged Bashir for seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity making him the first sitting head of state to be indicted by The Hague based court.
South Africa is a member of the ICC and is legally obligated to apprehend Bashir if he lands on its territory. However under former South African president Thabo Mbeki it has taken a strong stance in support of Bashir against the ICC.
Mbeki is now heading an African Union appointed panel to resolve the row between Sudan and the ICC by finding other means to bring accountability while preserving peace stakes.
‘The Australian’ online newspaper said that the heads of state of four other states with “undemocratic” leaders from Madagascar, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea were also told to stay away from the ceremony.
The move by the powerful nation in the continent will deal Sudan a severe diplomatic blow after successfully managing to rally African nations on its side against the ICC decision.
It remains to be seen if South Africa will take a less sympathetic policy towards Sudan particularly with regards to the six year conflict in Darfur. During its term in the UN Security Council (UNSC), South Africa has stood against resolutions not approved by Khartoum including those on the peacekeeping force.