AU rejects foreign military action

2011-03-12 16:11

The African Union has rejected any foreign military intervention in Libya.

In doing so it has scuppered ­European Union and Nato plans for the imposition of a no-fly zone over the country.

This follows a two-day meeting of the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which considered the deteriorating situations in Libya and Ivory Coast.

The AU position had an immediate effect on European talks in Brussels, where France and Britain were leading efforts for Nato to implement a no-fly zone which would force Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to ground his warplanes, currently being deployed against rebel positions.

It is understood that Turkey, as a Nato member, is dead set against any military intervention in or over Libyan air space.

The African position added strength to Turkey’s position and has forced the EU to now first consider humanitarian assistance to civilians caught up in the conflict.

The African call for dialogue is also likely to end efforts by Britain and France to take a proposal on a no-fly zone to the UN Security Council.

In a penultimate draft communiqué on Libya the council said the fighting posed “a threat to the peace and security in the country and region, including Libyan and African migrant workers”.

It also voiced concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation and expressed solidarity with the Libyan people.

The PSC also acknowledged “the legitimacy of the Libyan people’s aspiration to democracy”.

This was a clear indication the AU would put pressure on Gaddafi to make significant concessions towards democracy in Libya.

The AU body signalled that any attempt to split Libya would not find favour in Africa and expressed its “firm commitment to the unity” of the country.

It took note of the Libyan government’s readiness to engage in a process of political reform and added that “the current situation requires urgent African attention to facilitate the cessation of hostilities, humanitarian assistance, protection of civilians and adoption of political reforms”.

To this end a high-level panel of six heads of state will go to Libya “within days” to engage all parties in the crisis.

The panel will investigate the ­situation on the ground, including the role African mercenaries are playing in the conflict, and also ­interact with other AU members, the Arab League and the European Union.

One of the aims will be to provide assistance in an “all-inclusive ­dialogue among Libyan parties on ­appropriate reforms”.

The council requested all AU member states to provide humanitarian and logistical support to migrant workers in Libya.

On Ivory Coast, the council and the high-level panel which has ­engaged the parties in Abidjan have confirmed Allassane Ouattara as the legitimate president of the country and asked Laurent ­Gbagbo to step down.

Ouattara has accepted the AU decision to bring about a government of national unity, but with the exclusion of Gbagbo.

The PSC communiqué also holds that Gbagbo and his regime will receive immunity from prosecution for the post-election violence. The international community has been asked to lift sanctions once Gbagbo has stepped down.

Gbagbo, who refused to attend the PSC summit in Addis, rejected the call to step down and has ordered a ban on any UN flights over the Ivory Coast, making it difficult for Ouattara to return to his hotel HQ in Abidjan.

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