President Jacob Zuma and four Cabinet ministers hatched a plot to ensure Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s safe travel out of South Africa, it was reported on Friday.
Al-Bashir slipped out of the country moments before judges in the High Court in Pretoria ordered he be arrested. The Sudanese leader was in Johannesburg to attend the African Union (AU) Summit.
Zuma and the key security minister,s whose portfolios were crucial to facilitating Al-Bashir’s departure, allegedly plotted without the knowledge of other ministers, the Mail & Guardian reported.
The newspaper said Al-Bashir’s official aircraft was flown from OR Tambo International Airport to Waterkloof Air Base on Sunday evening. Waterkloof is controlled by the South African National Defence Force of which Zuma is the commander-in-chief.
Government representatives told the High Court that Al-Bashir’s name was not on the flight plan, although the flight was codenamed Sudan 01, meaning a president was on board.
It was also reported this week that hundreds of South African soldiers were held “hostage” by Sudanese troops in Darfur while the debacle around Al-Bashir’s departure from South Africa unfolded.
Only after the Sudanese president safely touched down in Khartoum on Monday, were Sudanese troops withdrawn, reported Netwerk24.
The South African government’s “shocking failure” to arrest Al-Bashir was a betrayal to hundreds of thousands of people killed in the Darfur conflict, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
“South Africa’s role was clear from the day President Omar al-Bashir touched down in the country – he should have been arrested and handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial for the war crimes he is alleged to have committed,” research and advocacy director for Africa Netsanet Belay said in a statement.
“By failing to hand President Omar al-Bashir over to the ICC during his stay in the country, the South African authorities, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, have through their inaction, aided Omar al-Bashir in his quest to avoid justice.” News24