Despite the controversy over their relationship, South African President Jacob Zuma met today with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in China‚ where they discussed strengthening relations, TimesLive reported.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and genocide during the Darfur conflict. There was a warrant out for his arrest when he visited South Africa in June to attend the African Union summit.
The South African government came under fire for allowing al-Bashir to leave the country and for failing arrest him despite a South African High Court order that al-Bashir be detained, News24 reported.
According to the ICC, South Africa as a member-state was obliged to arrest al-Bashir, as should be the case with any wanted person, AlgoaFMreported.
The South African government argued that al-Bashir was in the country on an African Union invitation, making the obligation null and void.
Just this week‚ the opposition Democratic Alliance party asked Parliament to consider impeaching Zuma for failing to effect the ICC arrest warrant on al-Bashir, TimesLive reported.
Today in China, Zuma and al-Bashir discussed strengthening relations between South Africa and Sudan while attending the 70th Anniversary of China’s victory over Japan.
“South Africa and Sudan enjoy warm bilateral relations‚” Zuma said in a prepared statement. “South Africa seeks to further strengthen cooperation with Sudan in the fields of agriculture‚ agro-processing‚ science and technology‚ energy‚ infrastructure development‚ mining and retail.”
To date, 16 bilateral agreements have been concluded between the two countries.
Zuma accepted the invitation by al-Bashir to visit Sudan‚ the statement said. Zuma’s last visit to Sudan was in February 2015, according to AlgoaFM.
When the South African government violated its own High Court’s orders, first to prevent al-Bashir from leaving the country and then to arrest him, the subsequent judgment by the High Court was scathing, BusinessDayLive reported.
Judge Dunstan Mlambo warned that the “democratic edifice could crumble” if South African court orders were violated by the South African government.
The incident triggered an unprecedented meeting between the executive and the judiciary after judges were criticized for their approach by ANC leaders. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng expressed concern over the “repeated and unwarranted attacks on judges by politicians.”
A delegation from the European Union’s parliament said South Africa should have prevented al-Bashir from leaving the country‚ SundayTimes reported in July. The ANC said the country’s failure to arrest al-Bashir was “for the greater good of humanity.”
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said this week the South African government abandoned Nelson Mandela’s commitment to a human rights-based foreign policy when al-Bashir was “smuggled away from South African soil in defiance of an order of the North Gauteng High Court,” TimesLive reported.
The DA’s attempt to set up a committee to impeach Zuma was outvoted 2 to 1.