April 26, 2023

South Africa considers quitting ICC over pressure to arrest Putin 

Arresting Putin is 'declaration of war', Ramaphosa warns ahead of BRICS summit

Ramaphosa and Putin

By Biodun Busari

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has threatened that his country will quit the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the pressure to execute an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ramaphosa made the comments at a joint press conference with visiting Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto, according to VOA. 

ICC, in March, had issued an arrest warrant for Putin over an alleged war crimes charges in Ukraine, which has generated concerns for South African leader to carry out at BRICS summit. 

Ramaphosa said there had long been a feeling in the governing African National Congress (ANC) that the ICC treats certain countries unfairly, likely referring to the fact that many African leaders have 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,” Ramaphosa said. 

“But in the meantime, the governing party has decided once again that there should be a pullout, so that will be a matter that will be taken forward.”

The ANC wanted to pull out of the court some years ago but was prevented from doing so by a South African court that found the move unconstitutional.

Putin has been invited to a meeting of the BRICS group of emerging nations in August in Johannesburg. BRICS nations include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The ANC is a staunch friend of Moscow and has refused to condemn the invasion of Ukraine.

If he does attend, as a signatory to the ICC, South Africa is obliged to arrest him.

However, Pretoria refused to arrest former Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir when he visited in 2015, despite an ICC arrest warrant out for him.