South Africa’s ANC Backtracks on ICC Withdrawal, Cites Communication ‘Error’

South Africa's ANC Backtracks on ICC Withdrawal, Cites Communication 'Error' (News Central TV)
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (R) and Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto (L) conduct a joint press conference during his state visit to South Africa at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on April 25, 2023. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)

President Cyril Ramaphosa had previously stated that South Africa would leave the International Criminal Court, ICC, but the country has no plans to do so, the president’s office said on Tuesday, blaming the ruling ANC party for a communication error.

“The presidency wishes to clarify that South Africa remains a signatory to the Rome Statute… This clarification follows an error in a comment made during a media briefing held by the governing African National Congress (ANC),” Ramaphosa’s office said in a late night statement.

At a media briefing earlier on Tuesday, Ramaphosa had stated that the ANC had decided that South Africa should leave the International Criminal Court (ICC), which had just last month issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Because of the ICC arrest warrant, Pretoria, which is hosting the bloc summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa this year, would have to jail Putin upon his arrival.

Addressing a question from a reporter during a joint press conference with the visiting Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Ramaphosa said the ANC “has taken that decision that it is prudent that South Africa should pull out of the ICC”.

Following a weekend meeting of its national executive council, the ANC held a media briefing where it said the topic of South Africa leaving the ICC was brought up.

ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula said that the “ICC does not serve the interest of all but the interest of a few”.

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