Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has flown out of South Africa ahead of a decision by that country's High Court on whether or not to arrest the accused war criminal and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Bashir flew back to Khartoum despite a judge's interim court order banning him from leaving South Africa, where he had been to attend an African Union summit. Members of the South African Litigation Centre said on Twitter that the initial order was issued to keep Bashir from passing through any port of exit, and was extended to Monday morning. But Sudan's state minister for information told Reuters that Bashir was expected to arrive in Khartoum at about 6:30pm local time on Monday.
Bashir is wanted on two warrants by the Netherlands-based ICC, which asked member state South Africa to arrest the Sudanese leader. The charges against Bashir are related to alleged atrocities committed in the Darfur conflict, where at least 300,000 people were killed and 2 million displaced, according the United Nations.
Sidiki Kaba, president of the Assembly of States to the Rome Statute of the ICC, said in a statement that he "calls on South Africa, which has always contributed to the strengthening of the Court, to spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrants."
The ICC cannot compel member states to make arrests, but it can remind them that they have a legal obligation to comply. Members of South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, said Bashir was given immunity to enter the country for the summit.
"It is on this basis, amongst others, that the ANC calls upon government to challenge the order now being brought to compel the South African government to detain President al-Bashir," the ANC said, according to the Associated Press.
Bashir seized power in 1989 when members of the Sudanese army ousted the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. Bashir has won re-election three times since the coup, though the results have been disputed. He is the first sitting president to be indicted by the ICC.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.