South Africa's Ramaphosa Backtracks on ICC Pullout
ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula had said Putin is free to visit South Africa at any time, adding that the ICC does not serve the interests of all, but those of a few.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has backtracked on his earlier announcement to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The reason for the U-turn was reportedly a communication error by the African National Congress (ANC), as reported by WION.
South Africa previously announced its exit from the ICC following the court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin last month.
According to a statement by ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula, Putin is free to visit South Africa at any time, adding that the ICC does not serve the interests of all, but those of a few.
Ramaphosa made his April 25 remarks during a joint press conference with visiting Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto. According to Ramaphosa, the notion that some countries were treated unjustly by the ICC had long been brewing in ANC, as reported by VOA.
What likely gave fuel to his statements was the fact that many African leaders have previously been brought before the court in The Hague, Netherlands.
“Our view is that we would like this matter of unfair treatment to be properly discussed.
The ICC issued the warrant for Putin’s arrest over what it alleges to be a war crime of “deporting” Ukrainian children.
Several years ago, a similar move was proposed by the ANC; however, it was blocked by a South African court that deemed it unconstitutional.
Putin is on the list of invitees for the upcoming BRICS group meeting of emerging nations in Johannesburg this August. BRICS is comprised of nations including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
The ANC and the Kremlin share an amicable relationship, with the ANC refusing to vilify Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s attendance, however, would legally mandate South Africa to arrest him, since the country is a signatory to the ICC.
Regardless, when former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir visited in 2015, South Africa refused to arrest him despite the ICC having issued a warrant for his arrest.
South Africa has come under heavy criticism for its close relationship with Moscow since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine started in February 2022. The country says its neutrality on the issue allows it to play a more constructive role in conflict resolution, Africa News reported.
In February, South Africa was host to naval exercises with China and Russia, stoking concerns in the international community.
Ties between South Africa and Russia date back to long ago. Russia was in strong support of the ANC against the ruling regime during the apartheid era.