A Sudanese diplomatic source reported that the country’s President Omar al-Bashir had left Johannesburg on Monday and was heading back to Sudan’s capital Khartoum despite a South African travel ban temporarily preventing him from leaving the country pending a decision on whether or not he would be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The source, speaking to Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity, said that Bashir left using his presidential plane from the military airfield in Johannesburg.
The ICC issued a warrant for Bashir’s arrest in 2009 on charges accusing him of war crimes for ordering a violent crackdown on a rebellion in Darfur.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Bashir himself mocked the ICC stating that the Hague-based body had “died long ago and the African Union Summit was its burial.”
Bashir stated that the leaders of African countries "refuse guardianship and they are masters of their decisions."
He went onto describe his country’s relations with the African Union and South Africa as “excellent.”
Bashir decided to travel to Johannesburg to attend the summit despite the high risk of his arrest as South African human rights advocacy groups and lawyer unions campaigned for his arrest in correlation with the ICC’s warrant.
Similar lobbying from groups and unions prevented Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi from attending the summit fearing his own arrest.
The ICC holds no police force within itself and uses the forces of its members to carry out arrests.
The President of the assembly of states to the ICC, Sidiki Kaba, stated that there would be negative consequences for the court if South Africa refused to implement its obligations.
The main opposition and human rights organisations in South Africa have also called on the government to arrest the Sudanese president.
There has been a conflict in Darfur since 2003 when rebel groups deposed the government and captured it.
300,000 people died, mostly from diseases, according to UN reports.
The ICC accused Bashir of war crimes and genocide after carrying out an investigation in region.