Bashir: What you need to know

2015-06-15 09:23
Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir. (AFP, File pictures)

Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir. (AFP, File pictures)

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Cape Town – The South African government has been put in a tight position following a call by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to have Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir arrested during the African Union summit currently under way in Johannesburg.

Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC, of which SA is a signatory, over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, arrived in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

Bashir was welcomed at the airport by South African government officials and Sudanese diplomats.

Following his arrival, many, including the civil society and the Democratic Alliance, have called for his arrest.

Since his indictment in 2009, Bashir has mostly travelled to countries that have not joined the ICC.

Darfur erupted into conflict in 2003 when insurgents mounted a campaign against Bashir's government, complaining their region was politically and economically marginalised.

Tight corner

More than 300 000 people have been killed in the conflict and fighting has forced at least 2.5 million people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

The situation puts South Africa in a tight corner, as it would want the international world to see it as abiding by the ICC rules, while at the same time it wants to keep a smooth relationship with the AU member countries which are against the international court.

The AU claims that the court disproportionately targets African leaders in its quest to end impunity.

As a result, the AU has passed several resolutions that, in effect, enjoin member states to ignore the ICC.

Meanwhile, the Southern African Litigation Centre has brought an application to the North Gauteng Court to compel the South Africa to arrest al-Bashir.

The court has ordered the South African government to prevent al-Bashir from leaving the country until the application had been heard.

Read more on:    international criminal court  |  au  |  omar al-bashir  |  sudan  |  east africa  |  war crimes

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