After rolling out the red carpet for all the African leaders in South Africa for the African Union Summit which is currently being held in Sandton in Johannesburg, the ANC-led government seems to have found itself in a diplomatic mess as they may have to forgo brotherly love and hand over the Sudanese leader, President Omar Al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This emerged after a court in Pretoria ruled that President Bashir is prohibited from leaving the Republic until on Monday when the same court rules if he will be handed over to the ICC.
President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan is facing allegations of crimes against humanity as well as genocide charges following the death, in his country, of more than 400 000 people, who were killed during the Darfur conflict, which started in 2003 when the rebels took up arms. In that conflict, more than a million people have fled their homeland to reside mostly in neighbouring countries.
South Africa has been sucked into the conflict between the International Criminal Court and Sudan due to the African Union Summit which is being chaired by Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and is being held in Johannesburg’s business hub of Sandton. When there was news that President Bashir would be travelling to South Africa for the summit, many questions were asked as to what action South Africa would take. When the matter was handed over to the court, it was ruled that the Sudanese President should not leave the Republic until Monday when it would rule on whether he should be handed over to the ICC. This was after it had initially indicated that they would reach a decision on handing him over to the Hague-based ICC on Sunday.
Political analysts have said that South Africa is in a no win situation since if it decides to hand over Omar Al-Bashir to the ICC, it could be accused of luring African leaders to their home turf in order to do the dirty work for the Western countries at a time when there is conflict between the ICC and the AU with the latter accusing the former of targeting African leaders. On the other hand, it has been suggested that if they allow Bashir to leave for Sudan, this may lead to frosty relations with the west. The world waits with bated breath for the decision that Pretoria will take.