South Africa Calls For An End To NATO Bombing

Pretoria - South Africa has reiterated its position with regards to the conflict in Libya, saying an immediate ceasefire should be the first order of business to allow for deliberations. South Africa also believes that a political, and not a military solution, is the only way out of the Libyan crisis.

“Efforts should immediately focus on achieving a ceasefire in order to create an environment that will be conducive to constructive deliberations among the people of Libya,” International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told a media briefing on Wednesday.

She said the most important thing was to stop hostilities, adding that only then could the drafting of a constitution start.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the African Union (AU) must also be given the space to carry out its mandate to pursue its Roadmap through its Ad hoc High Level Committee, which is headed by President Jacob Zuma.

The AU has devised a Roadmap which encourages an inclusive and consensual Libyan-owned and led transition, leading to the adoption and implementation of the necessary political reforms to address the causes of the current crisis, including democratic elections to enable the Libyans to freely choose their leaders.

She said the AU is central to any solution in Libya and should therefore not be sidelined or undermined in any way.

The roadmap, she says, has been has been enthusiastically received by both Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the Benghazi rebels.

“Gaddafi says he does not want to stand in the way of a peaceful resolution of the crisis in his own country but is prepared not to be part of the discussion of the future of Libya,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

She said South Africa is opposed to peace efforts seeking to banish Gaddafi from his country, adding that the AU has no “go-away calendar”.

There have been mounting calls for Gaddafi to leave office. In addition, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for him.

The minister also called on the Security Council, the UN in general and other stakeholders to work hand in hand with the AU to find a lasting solution.

“We believe that the UN should also take the lead in peace efforts in Libya in order to coordinate the different initiatives and avoid any confusion that a plethora of initiatives may possibly cause,” she told the media in Pretoria.

President Zuma has visited Libya, trying to outline a roadmap for that country. He has also met with Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, this week.

During his visit to Sochi, Zuma also met with NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was there for a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, to ask them to restraint and strictly ensure that their activities do not go against the letter and spirit of what was initially intended in the UN Resolution.

NATO has implemented a no-fly zone over Libya to restrict bombardment of civilians by Gaddafi's forces.

“Our intention was never regime change nor was it the targeting of individuals. The future of Libya should be decided by the Libyans themselves and not by outsiders,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

The AU panel on Libya is preparing to meet combatants from both sides to hear their reaction to the roadmap to end nearly five months of conflict.

– BuaNews