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South Africa/Sudan: arrest threat for Sudan’s al-Bashir 1

CAPE TOWN — Sudan’s recently re-elected President Omar al-Bashir faces arrest if he visits SA for the World Cup after President Jacob Zuma‘s pledge yesterday to abide by international law.

Al-Bashir, who was sworn in for a further term as president yesterday, is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.

SA is a signatory to the court’s statute. All signatory states have to arrest such wanted individuals if they visit their countries.

This is the second time SA has tied itself in a diplomatic knot over al-Bashir. He was asked to stay away from Zuma’s inauguration last year as the controversy threatened to overshadow the event.

During presidential question time in the National Assembly yesterday, Zuma was asked if al- Bashir would be arrested if he responded positively to the invitation sent to all African leaders to attend the World Cup opening.

In response to a question from Democratic Alliance MP Kenneth Mubu, Zuma said he respected international law, and would abide by the law.

Mubu repeated the question, and was given the same answer. If al-Bashir does visit, it will be SA’s responsibility to arrest him.

Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesman Saul Molobi could not say yesterday if al-Bashir had confirmed his attendance.

Zuma muddied the water when he said that he thought the African Union‘s decision to request the ICC to postpone its decision to issue an arrest warrant was the correct one.

This was because the issuing of the warrant could have further inflamed tension in Sudan, and made matters worse. The ICC has not withdrawn its arrest warrant for al-Bashir.

But ICC role in the African stage is still controversial, as a new analysis by Pambazuka NewsAFRICOM and the ICC: Enforcing international justice in Africa? – reports.

The ICC prosecutor has called for the US military to enforce ICC arrest warrants in Africa, while American officials have declared a new phase of cooperation between the US and the ICC, write Samar Al-Bulushi and Adam Branch. What some see as a solution to the ICC’s lack of enforcement capacity, the authors argue, in fact poses a dramatic danger to peace and justice in Africa and to the future of the ICC itself.

However, Zuma was also questioned about the role of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, whom he failed again to repudiate firmly, insisting that Malema’s controversial visit to Zimbabwe and his open support for Zanu (PF) leader Robert Mugabe and the nationalisation of land had not undermined SA’s mediation efforts in that country.

Zuma was jeered when he said that there was no fight going on in Zimbabwe. African Christian Democratic Party MP Cheryllyn Dudley had asked him if peacekeepers would be sent to Zimbabwe when they next went to the polls. To the astonishment of MPs, Zuma replied that peacekeepers were needed only where there “is a fight, and there is no fight in Zimbabwe”. The election would be monitored as usual, he said.

By Business Day and Pambazuka News

Articles by Wyndham Hartley and Loyiso Langeni – Business Day/ Samar Al-Bulushi and Adam Branch – Pambazuka News

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