'SA shouldn't have been asked to arrest al-Bashir'

Gwede Mantashe says arresting him would have damaged relations with other African countries.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe on Monday said South Africa should not have been made to arrest Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir as he has visited other countries on the continent without being arrested and South Africa was not special.

Al-Bashir left the country as the High Court in Pretoria was considering whether he should be arrested as he wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He was escorted by the police from the African Union summit in Sandton last Monday.

The ICC wants the Sudanese leader arrested for charges including war crimes and genocide.

He said al-Bashir was visiting under the auspices of the African Union and should not have been arrested as this meeting was part of a continental meeting.

Mantashe says arresting him would have damaged relations with other African countries.

"If you go the United Nations not a single one is arrested when it's bad and when they go to multilateral institutional meetings they get immunity."

He says it's the US that wants to see al-Bashir arrested.

GOVT DENIES 'SECRET MEETING' FOR AL-BASHIR'S SAFE EXIT

Meanwhile, government has strongly denied claims a 'secret meeting' of top ministers was held to plan the departure of Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir from South Africa last week.

Weekend newspapers reported that Zuma and ministers from the Justice Cluster had apparently helped the Sudanese president flee the country.

Both the Sunday Times and the Mail & Guardian have claimed security cluster ministers held a meeting to ensure he left the country safely.

But government spokesperson Phumla Williams says that's not true.

"We are denying that a team ministers held a meeting to ensure Omar al-Bashir left the country safely."

Government also says it cannot currently comment on whether ministers knew how Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir was leaving the country, because it needs to first explain to the north Gauteng High Court exactly what happened.