No Champagne and Canapes for Bashir in Pretoria

by Kevin Jon Heller

Despite his checkered past, I’m beginning to like Jacob Zuma, who is set to become the next President of South Africa, more and more:

The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir will not be invited to the inauguration ceremony of the South African president-elect Jacob Zuma, according to news reports.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) headed by Zuma has an absolute majority in general polls paving the way for the parliament to elect him as the new head of state in an early May vote.

The UK based ‘Times’ newspaper citing unidentified South African diplomatic sources reported that Zuma indicated that Bashir will not be welcome at his inauguration on May 9, and that he could even risk arrest and deportation to International Criminal Court (ICC).


South Africa is a member of the ICC and is legally obligated to apprehend Bashir if he lands on its territory. However under former South African president Thabo Mbeki it has taken a strong stance in support of Bashir against the ICC.

Mbeki is now heading an African Union appointed panel to resolve the row between Sudan and the ICC by finding other means to bring accountability while preserving peace stakes.

After the embarrassment that was Mbeki — with his appalling support not only for Bashir, but for Mugabe, as well — Zuma is a welcome change.  Strike one more country off the list of places Bashir won’t be visiting anytime soon.

3 Responses

  1. That’s a very welcome sign indeed, and it couldn’t be too soon for an African leader to actually stand up for African people (as, as they usually are, distinct from their leaders).

    I can’t say I have an enormous amount of optimism towards Zuma but if this is any sign I too will be a fan in very short order.

    Mbeki was truly woeful – you forgot to add to the adjective ‘murderous’ before the word support, and you forgot to add his cant about AIDS being a racist plot to that list of obscenities.

  2. Oops too fast, I meant to add that South Africa of all countries should be a source of leadership on Human Rights (and not the kind of leadership provided by Mbeki at Durban I). I would be thrilled if Zuma could become such a leader – along with the elections of the likes of Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, it could mark these few years as a turning point in Africa.

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  1. […] Kevin Heller notes that at least one African leader is finally starting to give President Al-Bashir the cold shoulder, […]