Al-Bashir urges other African countries to divorce the ICC

Last week, South Africa announced it would withdraw from The Hague-based ICC.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir speaks during a press conference in Khartoum late on September 22, 2013. Picture:AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has urged African members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to follow South Africa in withdrawing from the ICC.

Last week, South Africa announced it would withdraw from The Hague-based ICC.

The announcement follows a dispute last year when al-Bashir visited the country despite facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes.

The High Court in Pretoria had ordered government to arrest al-Bashir, but he slipped out of the country in contravention of the court order.

Earlier this month, Burundi said it would leave the court, while Namibia and Kenya have also raised the possibility.

Al-Bashir says the International Tribunal is a "new colonial tool" targeting only African leaders.

The Sudanese President has evaded arrest since his ICC indictment in 2009.

The United Nations say at least 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since the conflict erupted there in 2003.

ROME STATUTE HINDERS SA'S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

On Friday, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said the Rome Statute hinders South Africa's international relations because it compels the country to disregard its own Diplomatic Immunities Act.

The minister had been discussing government's decision to withdraw from the ICC in a move that's made headlines abroad.

The United Nations was notified of the decision on Thursday.

Masutha said, "The Rome Statute compels South Africa to arrest persons who may enjoy diplomatic immunity under customary international law."

He said this obligation hinders government's commitment to peaceful negotiations.

"South Africa has to do so even under circumstances where we are actively involved in promoting peace, stability and dialogue in those specific countries."

Parliament has been notified of the executive's decision.