Home | News    Wednesday 16 September 2015

South African president non-committal on allowing Bashir to attend summit next December

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September 15, 2015 (WASHINGTON) – The South African President Jacob Zuma refused to say today whether or not he will allow his Sudanese counterpart Omer Hassan al-Bashir to enter the country again later this year for the summit of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

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Sudan’s President Omer Hassan al-Bashir waits to welcome Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni at Khartoum Airport September 15, 2015 (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

FOCAC was initially set to be held at the ministerial level before Beijing and Johannesburg agreed to upgrade it to a full blown summit attended by leaders meaning that Bashir has to be invited as a matter of protocol.

Bashir’s attendance at the African Union (AU) in South Africa last June created a diplomatic and legal mess for the South African government which not only violated the International Criminal Court (ICC) obligations, but also an explicit order by the High Court to prevent the Sudanese leader from departing pending a decision on whether to extradite him to the Hague.

The ICC issued two arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010 charging him with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

Its judges are now wanting South Africa to explain its failure to arrest Bashir within 30 days which Zuma is being reviewed by his government.

“Our own courts are also still considering the matter of President al-Bashir’s last visit to South Africa in June which (makes) the matter therefore sub-judice,” Zuma said at a meeting with foreign diplomats and journalists in Pretoria today.

“It should however be remembered that Sudan is a member of FOCAC. As such, it is expected that the Sudanese Government will participate in FOCAC,” he added.

He fell short however of saying that Bashir is welcome to attend.

African News Agency (ANA) quoted unnamed official sources as saying that they do not believe Bashir will again take the risk of coming to South Africa.

South Africa is a member of the ICC and is among few world countries that incorporated its statute into the constitution making it part of its domestic law.

But the government has asserted last June that Bashir was enjoying immunity bestowed upon all AU delegates. The High Court has dismissed this argument and ordered Bashir’s arrest but he has already left the country a few hours earlier.

An appeal request by the South African government is pending and the High Court will rule on Wednesday whether to grant a Leave to Appeal paving the way for a fresh argument on the merits before the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA).

In late August, Zuma held a lengthy meeting with South Africa Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to discuss tensions between the executive and the judiciary after which the former vowed to uphold rule of law among other things.

(ST)

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  • 16 September 2015 05:29, by Jur Tier

    South African’s government must be joking. The world must now understand that the ANC is a part of those crimes committed by Bashire in Darfur. They knew that Bashire was wanted by the ICC. How then was he allowed to leave the Country before the court even decided? And why deciding on something obvious?

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