An international arrest warrant sought against Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir over allegations he masterminded genocide in Darfur is never going to be implemented, South Africa said on Tuesday.
"This action will take months but even if it is granted, what happens?" deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad told reporters.
"You can't arrest Beshir. Who's going to arrest him?"
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, sought an arrest warrant on Monday against Beshir on 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the western region of Darfur.
Three ICC judges will now examine the application to decide whether there are sufficient grounds for issuing a warrant, which could take several months.
Pahad said South Africa, which has around 900 troops serving as peacekeepers in Darfur, wanted to help strengthen the court but added it was "important for the ICC to take action that does not undermine its very important role."
"The chairperson of the African Peace and Security Council has already expressed concern about this action and said that they don't think it will contribute to long term peace in Darfur. We will be driven by that," he added.