South Africa mulls withdrawing from ICC ahead of BRICS summit

25 April, 08:27 PM
Vladimir Putin (Photo:Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS)

Vladimir Putin (Photo:Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his ruling ANC party plans to withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which recently issued an arrest warrant for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, Yahoo News reported on April 25, with reference to AFP.

South Africa is hosting the August BRICS summit, and would have been obliged to arrest Putin if he attends in person.

" Yes, the governing party... has taken the decision that it is prudent that South Africa should pull out of the ICC," Ramaphosa said.

He explained that such a decision was made by the African National Congress (ANC) party "mostly" because the ICC allegedly treats some countries “unfairly.”

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Several hours later, however, Ramaphosa's office retracted the statement, according to The Guardian.

"We wanted this issue of unfair treatment to be discussed properly, but in the meantime, the ruling party has decided once again that there must be a withdrawal," the president said.

Ramaphosa added that the question of Putin's possible arrest is "under consideration." However, the party's General Secretary, Fikile Mbalula, stated that "Putin can visit this country at any time."

"This ICC does not serve the interest of all but the interest of a few," Mbalula added.

South Africa has had close ties with Russia for several decades. The Kremlin once supported the ANC's struggle against the apartheid. Ramaphosa has also refused to condemn Russian aggression against Ukraine.

South Africa attempted to leave the ICC in 2016 when then-president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, arrived in the country, with an ICC arrest warrant hanging over his head. Authorities refused to apprehend al-Bashir, although ultimately South Africa’s top court later ruled that leaving the ICC was unconstitutional.

South Africa is among 118 countries that ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and therefore is legally obliged to enforce the warrant for Putin's arrest.

Although there has been no official confirmation yet, it is expected that Putin may visit South Africa in August to participate in the BRICS summit. The group's previous summits in South Africa were held in 2013 and 2018, with the Russian dictator attending both.

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