South Africa to try to withdraw from ICC again - Ramaphosa


JOHANNESBURG, April 25 (Reuters) - South Africa's governing African National Congress will aim to repeal the country's membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC), President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday, the second time it has attempted to do so.

The party's decision at a weekend meeting of its national executive committee came after the ICC issued an arrest warrant on March 17 against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.

"The governing party, the African National Congress, has taken that decision that it is prudent that South Africa should pull out of the ICC, largely because of the manner in which the ICC has been seen to be dealing with (these) type of problems," Ramaphosa told reporters during a state visit by Finnish president Sauli Niinisto.

Only two days earlier, South Africa's parliament announced that it would abandon a seven-year-long legislative process to pull South Africa out of the ICC's Rome Statute.

The process was abandoned because the governing party in December decided that South Africa should rather remain in the ICC and try to effect changes from within, a decision that has now been reversed.

The international arrest warrant against Putin was issued after he had already received his invite from South Africa to the BRICS summit in August, and it would oblige South Africa to hand him over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if he set foot in the country.

"He has been invited by President Ramaphosa and Russia has indicated attendance," South Africa's official in charge of the relationship with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries, Anil Sooklal, told Reuters.

The Kremlin on Monday said Putin will decide whether to attend the summit in person nearer the time.

This could again set in motion the parliamentary process, where only a simple majority would be needed to effect withdrawal from the ICC.

But the process is a lengthy one and unlikely to be concluded by the time of the BRICS summit.

Reporting by Carien du Plessis Editing by Tim Cocks, Alexandra Hudson

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