I told Gaddafi it is wrong - Zuma

2011-03-17 19:04

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday said he personally rebuked Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for "shooting his people", but declined to say whether SA backed international calls for a no-fly zone over the North African state.

"We are dealing with a situation in Libya where Gaddafi is shooting his people... I discussed with Gaddafi and I condemned the actions he has undertaken and said it was wrong and he must stop doing it," he told the National Assembly, referring to a phone conversation with the embattled Libyan leader last week.

Zuma said South Africa would co-ordinate its position on Libya with other members of the African Union.

The pan-African body this week appointed a panel of five presidents, including Zuma, to negotiate with both the Gaddafi regime and rebels trying to end his 42-year rule.

"South Africa will work under the guidance and leadership of the AU... the panel has already begun its work," he said.

"I don't think I want to prejudge what is happening in the United Nations. South Africa will certainly take a decision that will be in accordance with our belief."

"The government has not been silent or inactive on this matter. We began engaging other heads of state on this matter when events started unfolding. We are very concerned about this situation."

Assets frozen

Deputy International Relations and Co-operation Minister Marius Fransman has said Zuma would be part of an AU delegation that could travel to Libya for talks as soon as the weekend.

However on Thursday ministry spokesperson Clayson Monyela said it was not clear whether Zuma would personally go to Libya or send an emissary.

The AU panel on Libya also includes the presidents of the Congo, Mali, Mauritania and Uganda.

France, Britain and the United States pressed for a UN Security Council vote on Thursday on a no fly zone to stop Gaddafi's attacks on rebels.

While other members of the 15-member council have expressed doubts about military action, Washington argued that even stronger measures than a no-fly zone may be needed.

Gaddafi's forces have inflicted several defeats on rebels in recent days and Libya's deputy UN envoy, Ibrahim Dabbashi, who has turned against Gaddafi, warned on Thursday that the international community had half a day to react to prevent "genocide".

Zuma last week instructed the Treasury to begin freezing Gaddafi's assets in South Africa in accordance with an earlier United Nations Security Council resolution.

- SAPA
Read more on:    un  |  au  |  jacob zuma  |  muammar gaddafi  |  marius fransman  |  libya  |  libya protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings
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