Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir returns home after fleeing South Africa, pre-empting a court ruling over an international warrant for his arrest.
Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
The Pretoria High Court was due to decide whether Omar al-Bashir should be handed over to the ICC which charged him with the crimes.
Omar al-Bashir was in Johannesburg for an African Union (AU) summit.
A news conference will be held in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, upon his arrival.
On June 14, a judge barred Omar al-Bashir from leaving until the arrest application had been considered.
Omar al-Bashir is accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during the Darfur conflict.
The UN says that about 300,000 people in Sudan have died and more than two million have fled their homes since fighting began in 2003.
Government forces and allied Arab militias are accused of targeting black African civilians in the fight against the rebels.
At the hearing at the Pretoria High Court, the lawyer representing the South African government says Omar al-Bashir’s name was not on the list of passengers who took off earlier.
On June 15, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the ICC’s warrant for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir must be implemented by countries who have signed up to the court’s statutes.
As a member of the ICC, South Africa is obliged to arrest anyone charged by the court. Before the summit, the ICC issued a press statement urging the South African government “to spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrant”.
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over war crimes charges, left Khartoum on June 13 to travel to South Africa for an African (AU) summit, state news agency SUNA said.
The ICC has called on South Africa to arrest Omar al-Bashir.
Omar al-Bashir is wanted for war crimes over the conflict in Darfur.
An ICC statement said South Africa should “spare no effort” in detaining him.
But instead he was welcomed by South African officials on his arrival in Johannesburg, SABC tweeted.
Since the Sudanese president was indicted by the ICC in 2009 over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Darfur conflict, his overseas travel has been severely restricted.
Omar al-Bashir was accompanied by the foreign minister and other top Sudanese officials, SUNA reported.
There are tensions between the ICC and the AU, with some on the continent accusing the court of unfairly targeting Africans.
The AU has previously urged the ICC to stop proceedings against sitting leaders.
The warrants against Omar al-Bashir, who denies the allegations, have severely restricted his overseas travel.
He has, however, visited friendly states in Africa and the Middle East.
The ICC has no police force and relies on member states to carry out arrests.
As a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, South Africa is obliged to arrest Omar al-Bashir if he sets foot in the country, but correspondents say this is unlikely to happen.
The AU has previously refused to co-operate with the ICC, accusing it of bias against African leaders.
Sidiki Kaba, president of the assembly of states to the ICC, expressed “deep concern about the negative consequences for the court” if South Africa refused to comply with its obligations to carry out the arrest.
Human rights organizations and South Africa’s main opposition party have also called for Omar al-Bashir’s arrest.
Darfur has been in conflict since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government. The UN says more than 300,000 people have died, mostly from disease.
The ICC has ended an investigation into war crimes in the region, but the warrants against Omar al-Bashir remain outstanding. The court accuses him of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has announced a decision to free all political prisoners in the country.
In a speech at the opening of parliament, Omar al- Bashir also said the government was committed to a “national dialogue” with all groups.
It was not immediately clear how many prisoners would be released under the announcement.
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has announced a decision to free all political prisoners in the country
The move comes as tensions ease in Sudan amid improving relations with neighboring South Sudan.
Omar al-Bashir said Sudan had now “guaranteed the atmosphere for freedoms and the safeguarding of the freedom of expression of individuals and groups”.
“Today, we announce a decision to free all the political prisoners and renew our commitment to all political powers about dialogue,” the president said, without giving further details.
The government would continue to communicate with “all political and social powers without excluding anyone, including those who are armed, for a national dialogue which will bring a solution to all the issues,” he said.
Omar al-Bashir’s announcement was welcomed by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which said it hoped it would lead to an end to arbitrary detentions and torture under Sudan’s strict national security laws.
“There is a chronic pattern of human rights abuse in Sudan,” said HRW’s Sudan researcher Jehanne Henry.
She said the organization heard of cases every month where “people perceived to have political opinions not in keeping with those of the government” were detained.
But analysts said it was unclear how the government would define political prisoners, and whether the release would include rebel fighters and government officials currently on trial for plotting a coup.
Sudan has been facing a heightened security situation since South Sudan became independent in 2011.
Tension between the new neighbors has been strained, with rebellions breaking out on either side of the border and a dispute over oil which escalated to the brink of war in April.
However, in September the leaders of both nations signed a deal, mediated by the African Union, to resume oil sales and set up a demilitarized buffer zone.
Last month, Omar al-Bashir, who came to power in a coup in 1989, said he would step down at the next election in 2015 because Sudan needed “fresh blood”.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir says Sudan has “declared war” on his country, following weeks of fighting along their common border.
President Salva Kiir was speaking in China, which is a major buyer of oil from both countries, but has long been an ally of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.
Meanwhile, Sudanese warplanes conducted multiple bombing raids against Southern border regions in the early morning.
The raids followed a fatal bombing near the border town of Bentiu on Monday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, in which a market was bombed, killing at least one person and injuring many others.
The latest attacks hit the towns of Panakwatch and Lalop, and the Teshwin border post, the AFP news agency reported.
South Sudan became independent last year, following decades of conflict.
There have been tense relations since then, primarily over the division of oil reserves and the full definition of borders.
Salva Kiir was speaking as he met Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Beijing, after arriving there on Monday for a five-day visit.
South Sudanese president said his visit came “at a very critical moment for the Republic of South Sudan because our neighbor in Khartoum has declared war on the Republic of South Sudan”.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir says Sudan has "declared war" on his country, following weeks of fighting along their common border
Salva Kiir called China one of his country’s “economic and strategic partners”.
Chinese state television quoted Hu Jintao as urging calm and restraint on both Sudans.
Sudan has made no formal declaration of war, but analysts say Salva Kiir is clearly escalating the war of words.
Beijing has urged an end to the recent hostilities, during which Southern forces occupied Sudan’s most important oil field, in the Heglig area, saying it belonged to the South.
South Sudan says its forces withdrew from Heglig after two weeks, but Sudan says it expelled them, killing 1,000 soldiers.
Omar al-Bashir says he will not negotiate with the South and has vowed to continue military action until all Southern troops and their allies are out of Sudan.
On Monday, Ban Ki-moon called on Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir “to stop the slide toward further confrontation and… to return to dialogue as a matter of urgency”.
US President Barack Obama has said both countries “must have the courage” to return to the negotiating table and resolve their differences peacefully.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Tuesday that oil was “the economic lifeline for both countries”.
Liu Weimin added: “To maintain the stability and sustainability of the oil cooperation is consistent with the fundamental interests of both countries. It is also consistent with the interests of Chinese enterprises and their partners.
“We hope the oil negotiation between Sudan and South Sudan will make progress and [the two countries] will find a solution that both of them and other sides involved can accept.”
In January, South Sudan shut down oil production, which provides 98% of its revenue, after Khartoum impounded South Sudanese oil shipments amid a dispute over transit fees.
South Sudan took most of the former united Sudan’s oil reserves when it became independent but relies on pipelines to seaports in Sudan to export it.
South Sudan voted overwhelmingly in favor of secession in a January 2011 referendum, leading to independence six months later.