AU urges end to Nato Libya strikes

2011-05-26 21:13

Addis Ababa - African leaders on Thursday called for an end to Nato airstrikes on Libya to pave the way for a political solution to the conflict.

The leaders made the call after a summit dedicated to the Libyan crisis held at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

"As far as Nato airstrikes are concerned... you will see [in the summit declaration not yet made public] a clear call by heads of state and government for those airstrikes to come to an end," said Ramtane Lamamra, the AU's Peace and Security Commissioner.

"This is part of the requirement for political solutions to become possible," he said, adding: "The African Union shares the belief ... that what is taking place now goes beyond the scope of [UN resolutions] 1970 and 1973."

The AU is opposed to the military campaign against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and called for a ceasefire and a peaceful means to resolve the fighting that followed mass anti-government protests in mid-February.

But the head of the Libyan rebels' Transitional National Council delegation to the AU summit said the Nato strikes had prevented mass civilian killings by Gaddafi’s regime.

"If it were not for the Nato, we would have had massacres in Libya similar to those that happened in Rwanda," said Abdalla Alzubedi.

"They have been mainly targeting military positions to protect civilians. Civilians are still under attack by the regime in so many cities all over Libya," he added, also calling for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

The pan-African bloc also sought a stronger say in the crisis.

"Some international players seem to be denying Africa any significant role in the search for a solution to the Libyan conflict," the AU Commission chief Jean Ping said Wednesday at the start of the summit.

"Africa is not going to be reduced to the status of an observer of its own calamities."

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