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South Africa: Presidency, ANC Retract Comments After President Ramaphosa Declares Nation’s Withdrawal From ICC

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday that the nation’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) would make a second attempt to have the country’s membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) revoked. However, a few hours later, his administration issued a retraction of the statement, which caused uncertainty.

After the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 17, accusing him of the war crime of forcibly taking hundreds of children from Ukraine, the party made its decision at a weekend meeting of its national executive committee.

The international arrest warrant for Putin was issued after South Africa already gave him invitation to the BRICS meeting in August, and it would require the country to turn Putin over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if he entered its borders.

“The governing party, the African National Congress, has taken that decision that it is prudent that South Africa should pull out of the ICC, largely because of the manner in which the ICC has been seen to be dealing with (these) type of problems,” Ramaphosa addressed reporters while Finnish President Sauli Niinisto was on a state visit.

Incorrect comment

In contrast, Ramaphosa’s office released a statement shortly after, saying: “The presidency wishes to clarify that South Africa remains a signatory (to the ICC).”

The statement read, “The explanation follows an inaccuracy in a remark made during a media conference hosted by the ruling African National Congress.

The process was stopped because the ruling party decided in December that South Africa should stay in the ICC and attempt to enact changes within. This decision has now been reversed.

Anil Sooklal, a representative of South Africa who oversees relations with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) nations, told British news agency Reuters that President Ramaphosa had invited him and that Russia had signalled an intention to participate.

Putin will decide whether to attend the summit in person closer to the time, the Kremlin stated on Monday. This might restart the parliamentary procedure, wherein removal from the ICC would be possible with a simple majority.

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