SA calls on AU to end Libya violence

2011-02-28 15:56

Johannesburg - South Africa called on the African Union on Monday to end the "excessive use of force against demonstrators" in the violence-ridden north African state of Libya.

"As the situation in Libya continues to deteriorate we would like to reiterate our support for the call made by the AU Peace and Security Council for an 'end to the indiscriminate and excessive use of force against demonstrators'," said International Relations Deputy Minister Marius Fransman.

"Furthermore, we urge the Libyan government to abide by UN Security Council Resolution 1970 and ensure the safety of foreign nationals and their assets, and to facilitate the departure of those wishing to leave the country as well as the safe passage of humanitarian and medical supplies, humanitarian agencies and workers, into Libya in order to assist the Libyan people," he said in a statement.

Fransman said 30 South Africans had been evacuated from Libya, as well as nine Southern African Development Community (SADC) citizens.

"After careful assessment of the security situation on the ground in Tripoli it was decided that all South African diplomatic personnel would also evacuate until such time as it is safe to return to Libya."

The South African government would continue to monitor the situation in Libya and remained "committed to provide assistance upon request from the Libyan people in ensuring a smooth transition to democratic rule", said Fransman.

Earlier on Monday, Libya's ambassador to South Africa Abdullah Alzubedi called on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to resign.

"He must do the right thing for the people of Libya," said Alzubedi.

"He must consider [resigning] in the interests of the country and stop killing innocent people," he told the National Press Club in Pretoria.

Alzubedi said he was satisfied with the response from the South African government to the situation in his home country.

Alzubedi said that although communication with Tripoli had broken down, said Libyan ambassadors in various countries were trying to keep in touch as much as possible as the political turmoil in their country continued.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance called on President Jacob Zuma to revoke Alzubedi's credentials, and questioned why Zuma himself had failed to publicly criticise Gaddafi.

"While [Alzubedi] is right to call for Gaddafi to resign, we feel that the ambassador has not gone nearly far enough in his condemnation of the regime.

"If he truly believed that he was no longer the dictator's envoy, he would have resigned," said DA spokesperson Stevens Mokgalapa.

The United Nations Security Council has condemned the Libyan government's "indiscriminate and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters", a resolution which was welcomed on Sunday by the department of international relations and co-operation.

The United States, Britain and the UN Security Council all slapped sanctions on Libya this weekend.

Gaddafi, who has been labelled a "lunatic" and "out of touch with reality", criticised the sanctions against his country and vowed to stay in power, saying Libyans were behind him.

Quoting the UN refugee agency UNHCR, international news agencies reported on Monday that the unrest in Libya had killed at least 1 000 people.

Protests against Gaddafi's 41-year rule started two weeks ago, sparking violent crack-downs by security forces.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Monday "strongly condemned" the killings.

"Cosatu strongly condemns the massacre of more than 1 000 protesters by the government of Libya and demands that people be allowed to exercise their basic human right to demonstrate peacefully," it said in a statement.

- SAPA
Read more on:    muammar gaddafi  |  marius fransman  |  libya  |  north africa
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