South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) will re-open an internal debate about its stance on the International Criminal Court before an expected visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin this year.
The ANC’s National Executive Committee began a four-day meeting on Friday. It plans to continue earlier discussions about whether or not South Africa should withdraw from the Rome Statute — the treaty that established the court.
As a signatory, the government may be obliged to arrest Putin under an arrest warrant the court issued in March should he accept an invitation to attend a BRICS summit in South Africa in August.
“We are grappling with issues of South Africa’s participation in the ICC,” ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula told reporters in Johannesburg.
“It could well be that in the end, we decide to stay, but in terms of the last NEC, these are some of the outstanding issues we must resolve.”
South Africa drew international criticism in 2015 when it refused to execute an ICC arrest warrant for then-Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir while he was attending an African Union summit in the country.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma proposed withdrawing from the ICC in 2016, though that plan was later abandoned.
The government is currently taking legal advice on handling the arrest warrant for Putin.