Sudan President to return home despite court order

Friday 12/06/2015
He will return today … or tomorrow

JOHANNESBURG - Sudan insisted President Omar al-Bashir's visit to Johannesburg for a summit was proceeding normally and he would return after its main meeting, despite a court order Sunday banning him from leaving South Africa.

The South African court issued the temporary ban after the International Criminal Court called for the arrest of Bashir, who is wanted over alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur conflict.

"It is difficult to give details of President Bashir's timetable, but he will return when the main session is over. This could be today or tomorrow. I will not go into the details," said Sudan's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Ismail.

"Until now, things are normal and there is no risk to his excellency the president," Ismail said at a news conference.

Bashir travelled to Johannesburg for the summit on Saturday at the head of Sudan's delegation in defiance of his ICC indictments.

But the Southern African Litigation Centre, a legal rights group, launched an urgent court application to force the authorities to arrest Bashir.

There will be a hearing in Pretoria High Court later.

But Ismail dismissed the order.

"What is happening in the media has nothing to do with what is happening in South Africa," he said.

All the indictments relate to the western Sudanese region of Darfur, which erupted into conflict in 2003 when ethnic insurgents launched a campaign against Bashir's Arab-dominated government, complaining of marginalisation.

Khartoum unleashed a bloody counter-insurgency using the armed forces and allied militia.

The United Nations says 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict and another 2.5 million forced to flee their homes.