JOHANNESBURG: A South African judge on Sunday ordered authorities to prevent Sudanese President Omar Bashir, who is in South Africa for an African Union summit, from leaving the country because of an international order for his arrest. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court
Bashir appeared for a photo with other African leaders at the summit in Johannesburg on Sunday, smiling as cameras flashed.
“President Omar Bashir is prohibited from leaving South Africa until a final order is made in this application,” Judge Hans Fabricius said, according to local media reports.
The judge ordered the South African government to ensure that officials at all border posts enforce the court’s decision, according to Caroline James, a lawyer with the Southern Africa Litigation Center. The court is expected to rule on Monday if Bashir should be handed over to the International Criminal Court to face charges of alleged genocide and human rights abuses.
Kamal Ismail, the Sudanese state minister for foreign affairs, told reporters in Khartoum that Bashir had received assurances from the South African government prior to his visit that he would be welcome and was expected to return to Sudan on schedule.
He said the court order preventing Bashir from leaving South Africa “has nothing to do with the reality on the ground there,” adding that “until now things are normal and there is no threat to the life of the president of the Republic.”
The African National Congress, which is South Africa’s ruling party, said the South African government granted immunity “for all (summit) participants as part of the international norms for countries hosting such gathering of the AU or even the United Nations.”
“It is on this basis, amongst others, that the ANC calls upon government to challenge the order now being brought to compel the South African government to detain President Al-Bashir,” the ANC said, adding that African and Eastern European countries “continue to unjustifiably bear the brunt of the decisions of the ICC.”