South Africa's Ruling ANC Party Seeks Exit From `Biased' ICC

  • Africans feel criminal court targets its leaders, Zuma says
  • Government refused to arrest Sudan's leader under ICC warrant

South Africa’s African National Congress has decided that the government should review its participation in the International Criminal Court because it unfairly targets African leaders, President Jacob Zuma said.

“In the eyes of the African leaders, the ICC is biased,” Zuma said in an speech in Johannesburg on Monday, following a three-day meeting of the ruling party. “Only Africans they are interested in. This is what has made Africa feel we need to relook at our participation. It looks like it is just meant for us.”

On Sunday, Obed Bapela, the head of the ANC’s international relations committee, told reporters the party had taken the decision to withdraw from the Hague-based court.

South Africa’s government refused to arrest Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir, who has been indicted twice for war crimes and genocide by the ICC, when he visited Johannesburg on June 15 for an African Union summit. The government also defied an order from South Africa’s High Court that al-Bashir couldn’t leave the country while it reviewed the case.

While South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, the government argued that it couldn’t arrest al-Bashir because he was in the country for an event that fell under the AU’s jurisdiction.

Al-Bashir has ruled Sudan for a quarter century since taking power in a military coup. The ICC indicted him in 2009 and 2010 for his role in atrocities in Sudan’s western Darfur region, where insurgents took up arms in 2003. As many as 300,000 people have died in the conflict, mainly from illness and starvation, according to the United Nations.

“Africa says if this international court is to look at justice why was the U.S. not taken to task when they made an allegation there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and therefore attacked the country, arrested the president, tried him, convicted him, sentenced him to death and hanged him,” Zuma said. “Later they say there are no weapons of mass destruction. Israel has been continuing killing Palestinians. Nothing has been said about Israel.”

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