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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa reverses pledge to quit international criminal court ahead of Putin’s visit

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa reverses pledge to quit international criminal court ahead of Putin's visit
Putin and Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has retracted his pledge to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), months before the country is scheduled to host Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is wanted by the ICC for suspected war crimes.

Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) would aim to repeal 's membership in the Hague-based court, but his office corrected him the following day, saying he had made a mistake.

remains a signatory to the ICC in line with a resolution of the 55th National Conference of the ANC – held in December 2022,” the presidency said.

The ANC had decided at its national conference in December that South Africa should abandon the legislative process to withdraw from the ICC and try to effect changes to the organization from within.

The party reaffirmed its decision at a meeting of the National Executive Committee of the ANC during the weekend of 21 to 24 April 2023.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant in March for Putin, accusing him of the war crime of forcibly deporting children from Russian-occupied territory in .

Moscow denies committing war crimes, including forced deportations of children and says the ICC has no authority as is not a member.

Putin is scheduled to visit South Africa in August for a summit of the BRICS group of emerging economies comprising , , , , and South Africa. As a member of the ICC, South Africa would be required to detain him.

Putin has not travelled abroad since the ICC warrant was issued. He has made only one trip outside the former Soviet Union – to Iran – since launching the invasion of last year.

South Africa plans to establish an African continental criminal court that would complement the ICC as a court of last resort.

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