South Africa's Zuma Opens Door For Another Bashir Visit




South Africa's President Jacob Zuma Tuesday said Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir may return to the country, after defying in June an International Criminal Court (ICC) order to arrest Bashir on genocide charges.


Zuma told diplomats in the capital Pretoria that Sudan was a member of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a meeting between China and 50 African states which will hold its second summit in Johannesburg in December.

"It is expected that the Sudanese government will participate in FOCAC," Zuma said.

Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, left South Africa after his controversial visit in June despite a court order barring his departure.

The government has claimed that because Bashir was attending an African Union summit at the time, he had immunity from arrest.

The decision by South Africa not to arrest Bashir sparked international condemnation which was met with a threat from Pretoria to withdraw its membership with the Hague-based international court.

The ICC has ordered South Africa to explain by October 5 why it welcomed Bashir at the June summit.

"We are currently studying the order. We will then make a determination as to the next course of action, if any," Zuma said.

The South African leader has dodged any serious criticism of the Bashir scandal, thwarting an attempt earlier this month by the opposition to impeach him over the saga.

Bashir has evaded justice since his indictment in 2009 for alleged crimes in the conflict in the western Sudanese region of Darfur that killed 300,000 people and forced two million to flee their homes.

( AFP )
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