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Al-Bashir planning to leave SA overnight - sources

EWN has learnt that al-Bashir plans to leave SA tonight despite a court ruling preventing him from doing so.

FILE: The SACL is trying to ensure President Omar al-Bashir is arrested and handed over to the ICC. Picture: Jean-Jacques Cornish.

PRETORIA - Highly placed sources have told Eyewitness News Sudan President Omar al-Bashir plans to leave South Africa overnight despite a court ruling obliging him to stay.

This is until the High Court in Pretoria rules on whether authorities should meet their legal obligations and arrest him in terms of the Rome Statute.

Al-Bashir has evaded two arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2009 for crimes against humanity committed in Sudan.

The Sudanese president is currently attending the 25th African Union summit in Sandton.

Highly placed South African sources are aware there will be consequences if al-Bashir defies a court order by leaving.

But they say the ramifications of having to arrest the Sudanese president, if indeed a court rules this way, are far greater.

The degree to which al-Bashir surprised his African peers by arriving at the summit was illustrated at lunch after today's closed session, where no place had been set for him.

He left with his entourage but returned to be welcomed by name by AU Commission Chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

COURT PROCEEDINGS

The High Court in Pretoria earlier instructed the Home Affairs Department to ensure al-Bashir does not leave South Africa until an application to have him arrested is heard.

The application has been brought by the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) which is trying to force the state to arrest al-Bashir in terms of the Rome Statute.

SALC today argued that there's a risk that immigration officials won't comply with the order as this happened in the past.

SALC lawyer Caroline James says, "SALC is very relieved at the order that's been issued by Judge Fabricius. The order requires that all ports of entry and exits are notified of the order that's preventing him from leaving as well as well as ensuring we are told who is responsible for each port of entry.

"We would then have those details, in the unlikely event that President al-Bashir were to leave out of those port of entries, we would know who to bring contempt of court proceedings against."

Meanwhile, civil society groups from across the continent have called for stronger interventions by African heads of states in what they call politically unstable regions.

Several groups from various countries including Egypt, Zimbabwe and Lesotho staged demonstrations outside the Sandton Convention Centre this afternoon, where the 25th African Union (AU) summit is being held.

They believe the AU is not addressing several key issues including leadership on the continent.

Joang Molapo, who represents several of Lesotho's opposition parties, says steps must be taken by the AU to prevent further instability in that country.

"As we speak now, the leaders of our opposition parties are in exile here in South Africa. We want the security situation in Lesotho to be such that they are able to return to Lesotho as well as security reforms that we need to see in Lesotho."

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