International Criminal Court, The Hague, March 3, 2011
The entrance of the International Criminal Court is seen in The Hague March 3, 2011. Jerry Lampen/Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -- South Africa plans to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC), a deputy minister said Sunday, as the government faces criticism for ignoring a court order to arrest Sudan's president this year. The ICC has "lost its direction" and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) wants to withdraw South Africa after following certain processes, Obed Bapela, deputy minister in the presidency, told reporters after a ruling-party policy meeting.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accused of genocide and war crimes, visited the country in June, but was allowed to leave despite a court order to detain him. The government last week asked the ICC for more time to explain why it allowed this.

But the ruling party this weekend resolved to leave the ICC, with Bapela saying powerful nations "trample" human rights and pursue "selfish interests."

"South Africa still holds the flag of human rights, we are not lowering it," he said, adding parliament would now debate ICC membership.

The ANC commands a comfortable majority in the legislature of Africa's most advanced economy, with more than 60 percent of the vote.

(Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by David Clarke)