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South African court puts restrictions on Sudan's president

Published:Monday | June 15, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

JOHANNESBURG (AP):

A South African judge yesterday ordered authorities to prevent Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was in South Africa for an African Union summit, from leaving the country because of an international order for his arrest.

Sudanese officials, however, said al-Bashir had been assured by the South African government that he would be welcome during his visit.

Al-Bashir appeared for a group photo with other African leaders at the summit in Johannesburg yesterday, wearing a blue three-piece suit, a tie and a smile as cameras flashed. The conference was scheduled to end today.

Rabie Abdel-Attie, a senior member of al-Bashir's National Congress Party, said in Khartoum that al-Bashir will stay at the meeting "until it ends".

South African Judge Hans Fabricius instructed authorities to prevent al-Bashir from leaving the country because he is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

He said border officials should enforce his decision pending a hearing on whether al-Bashir should be arrested, according to Caroline James, a lawyer with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre rights group. A court is expected to rule today if al-Bashir should be handed over to the International Criminal Court to face charges of alleged genocide and human rights abuses.

Kamal Ismail, the Sudanese state minister for foreign affairs, told reporters in Khartoum that al-Bashir had received assurances from the South African government prior to his visit that he would be welcome and was expected to return to Sudan on schedule.

He said the court order seeking to prevent al-Bashir from leaving South Africa "has nothing to do with the reality on the ground there", adding that "until now, things are normal, and there is no threat to the life of the president of the republic".