Sudan has said it is not concerned about the safety of President Omar al-Bashir, who is attending an Africa Union summit in South Africa.
A South African judge Sunday ordered the Pretoria government to prevent Bashir from leaving with outstanding charges issued by the International Criminal Court, which seeks his arrest.
Bashir has been charged with war crimes and genocide stemming from his military’s role in the Darfur conflict.
Information Minister Ahmed Bilal said South African President Jacob Zuma has assured Bashir he is an honorable guest and that nothing will happen to him.
Bilal described the ICC as a tool created by the West specifically to punish Africans while ignoring human rights violations elsewhere.
He said South Africa will not arrest Bashir because Zuma is one of the African leaders who have called for all of Africa to withdraw from the ICC.
“Our president went to South Africa to attend the African Union summit based on an invitation from President Jacob Zuma, with a guarantee that nothing will happen. The South African Minister of Foreign Affairs this (Sunday) morning came to the president and told him that nothing will happen. You are an honorable guest, you can stay until you can go back to your country,” he said.
Bilal said Bashir was able to attend all summit sessions unhindered and expects he will attend all of Monday’s sessions before the summit ends and he returns to Khartoum.
He said that while any court can talk about what should happen, only South African authorities have the power to carry out such orders, and Sudan is certain nothing will happen because it enjoys good relations with South Africa.
“We have very good relations with the government of South Africa. We know that they are not going to arrest the president, and that nothing will happen,” Bilal said.
Bilal dismissed criticism that, if South Africa does not arrest Bashir it will be seen as condoning impunity. He said Bashir is not a criminal and that the ICC is a tool created by the West specifically to punish Africans while ignoring human rights violations elsewhere.
“Actually, the ICC is a court practically directed toward the punishment of African leaders. Lots of crimes have been committed around the world and those countries have got immunity in Israel, United States and everywhere. Our president is not a criminal and knows these allegations are not true,” Bilal said.
In a message posted to Twitter, South Africa's ruling African National Congress party said it was calling upon the government to challenge the order against Bashir. It said immunity was granted to all participants of the summit as part of the international norms for countries hosting such gatherings.