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South Africa's decision to leave International Criminal Court unconstitutional says High Court

He ordered Jacob Zuma, the South African president, to withdraw the "invalid" notification to the court of withdrawal. But two of the three withdrawals have now been halted.

Bashir has always rejected the charges and refuses to stand trial as his country does not recognise the ICC's jurisdiction, which the head of state slammed as "a tool to terrorise countries that the West thinks are disobedient".

"South Africa's justice minister shocked the country last October when he announced it would pull out of the International Criminal Court", Peter Granitz reports for NPR from Pretoria.

On October 21, Justice Minister Michael Masutha told reporters that SA had initiated the process of withdrawing from the ICC by notifying the United Nations of its intention to revoke its ratification of the Rome Statute, the ICC's founding treaty.

But on February14, The Gambia told the United Nations that it would remain in the ICC, reversing the previous administration's plan to withdraw from the tribunal.

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Mojapelo added that government decisions must be based on "the expressed authority of the constitution".

South Africa, however, remains the heavyweight in the African mutiny against the ICC.

In its withdrawal notice, South Africa complained that its legal obligations to the global court were sometimes "incompatible" with the "peaceful resolution of conflicts".

Pretoria had in 2015 announced its intention to leave after the ICC criticised it for disregarding an order to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accused of genocide and war crimes, when he visited South Africa. However, the court's ruling could mean a significant delay in the process, and some legal experts speculate that the government might consider dropping its withdrawal plan ahead of the next presidential elections in 2019.

The court noted that the power to coordinated matters as regards treaties rest on the Executive but must get approval from the parliament before doing so.

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A high court judge instructed the government to revoke its notice of withdrawal from the court based in The Hague, Netherlands.

The issue may also be a factor in the run-up to and aftermath of the ruling African National Congress's internal leadership vote in December this year.

"We really hope that this judgment does create breathing space for government to reconsider and perhaps to come up with a reasonable approach".

Late past year, Burundi and the Gambia also announced plans to leave the court, leading to concerns that other states would follow. Shortly before the court ruling on Wednesday, parliament began asking for public submissions on the ICC issue.

The case was brought before court by the Democratic Alliance, and the opposition party was delighted with the result. Though, the government hasn't yet announced whether it will appeal the decision, try to run the withdrawal through parliament, or drop the matter entirely to save face.

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