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Ruling party plans South Africa exit from International Criminal Court

ICC headquarters in The Hague

The ruling party of South Africa no longer wants to be a part of the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the court has "lost its direction."

Obed Bapela, a senior member with the ruling African National Congress (ANC), made the announcement in a Sunday briefing of the council.

"The ICC has lost its direction unfortunately and is no longer pursuing that principle of an instrument that is fair for everybody," Bapela said.

"South Africa still holds the flag of human rights, we are not lowering it," he said, adding that the parliament had been tasked with debating the country’s ICC membership.

The Hague-based court recently asked South Africa to explain why it did not arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his official visit to the country earlier this year.

In June, the South African government defied the high court's order by allowing Bashir to leave the country after a meeting of African Union leaders in the capital Johannesburg.

Bapela answered the ICC indirectly in June during an interview saying that “we are not going to use the AU as a platform to arrest leaders.”

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (R) meets with his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, during an official two-day visit on January 31, 2015 in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)

The South African government, which is a signatory to the ICC, has been criticized for failure to arrest Bashir, who has mainly chosen countries that have not joined the ICC as his travel destinations since his indictment.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant on July 12, 2010 for Bashir over allegations of genocide committed in the conflict-ridden Darfur region.

An earlier arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader was issued in March 2009 by the ICC for charges including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Bashir has strongly denied the allegations against him, dismissing the claims as a Western conspiracy to seize oil, gas and other natural resources from Sudan.

The armed conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced two million others, according to the United Nations.

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