Al-Bashir court action opportunistic - Parliament committee

2015-06-15 10:48
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrives for a group photograph of leaders at the 25th AU Summit in Johannesburg. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrives for a group photograph of leaders at the 25th AU Summit in Johannesburg. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

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Johannesburg - The court action seeking to compel South African authorities to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was opportunistic, Parliament's international relations and co-operation portfolio committee said on Monday.

"This is an opportunistic act only meant to pit African leaders against each other in the name of international law, but also hijack the vision to have Agenda2063 operationalised," chairperson Siphosezwe Masango said in a statement.

"African Union (AU) has serious business to consider including economies of Africa, regional trade integration, infrastructure development, xenophobia, illicit financial flows, and uncontrolled migration."

The task at hand that ought to occupy Africans is to make Africa a better continent, whose place on the global stage is respected.

"Government should be alert to opportunism by civil society organisations whose claim to legitimacy is to 'strengthen democracy by overseeing African governments' while the opposite is true,” Masango said.

Brokering a peace deal

On Monday, the High Court in Pretoria will hear an application on whether South African authorities can arrest al-Bashir.

On Sunday Judge Hans Fabricius ordered that the Department of Home Affairs ensure that all points of entry and exit be informed that al-Bashir is not allowed to leave until the SA Litigation Centre's (SALC) application that South Africa arrest him, is concluded.

Al-Bashir is in South Africa to attend the African Union Summit, which concludes on Monday. South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has also been brokering a peace deal between South Sudan, and Sudan, with oil supplies between the two a sticking point.

Following Fabricius' order, justice department spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said South Africa would take reasonable steps to ensure that officials at all points of entry and exit were told of the court order.

"In so far as practically possible reasonable steps will be taken to comply with the interim order given the fact that we will now be preparing our arguments for the main argument on the substantive issues," Mhaga said.

The South African Litigation Centre (SALC) had applied for South Africa to enforce two warrants for Al-Bashir's arrest issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2009 and 2010 relating to alleged war crimes and genocide.

Interim order prevents departure

It said that on Saturday the ICC ruled that diplomatic immunity did not apply to heads of state wanted for trial and issued a plea to South Africa to arrest him to stand trial.

The application started after 11:00 on Sunday with officials hastily brought to court in Pretoria, but the government said it was not ready because of the short notice, having received papers at around 10:30.

It asked for an adjournment, but the SALC, fearing that al-Bashir would leave in the meantime, obtained an interim order preventing his departure.

Masango said African leaders appeared to be subjected to the ICC. If matters continued this way the committee might have to advise government to re-look at its membership of the ICC.

"In fact, it would be best if the entire continent follows suit. Although South Africa holds international governance structures in high regard, it is crucial that their programmes are not open to sinister objectives and hidden agendas,” he said.

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

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