The leader of South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) John Steenhuisen has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to arrest Russian leader Vladimir Putin should he set foot in the country.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest order for Putin on March 18, 2023, for suspected war crimes committed during Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
As a signatory to the Rome Statute, Steenhuisen believes South Africa has a legal duty to collaborate with the ICC and assist in putting President Putin behind bars when he visits the country.
“I think that any responsible president would advise Putin, given the ICC arrest warrant, that he should perhaps not come,” said Steenhuisen.
“But if he does come, I think South Africa is obliged — if it’s for the rule of law and (if you) govern according to the constitutional principles — you would be obliged to execute that arrest warrant.
“If he is here, we have a legal obligation. The principle of the rule of law means equality before the law, and South Africa is obliged to execute that.
"We have not left the ICC. We’ve remained signatories. Putin must be arrested,” he added.
According to International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor, the Russian president will join the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) meeting in South Africa in August.
The South African International Relations Department and President Ramaphosa, on the other hand, are awaiting formal guidance on how to handle Putin's visit to South Africa.
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