Zuma takes aim at UN over Libya airstrikes

2012-01-12 22:39

New York - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday slammed the UN Security Council for allowing the Nato military strikes in Libya that played a key role in the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Zuma complained to the Security Council that an African Union peace plan for Libya was "completely ignored" and said Libya's problems had now "spilled over" to other countries in north Africa because of the council's action.

The president lectured the 15-member council as he chaired a special debate on relations between the United Nations and the African Union.

South Africa abstained in the council's resolution 1973 passed on March 17 last year, which authorised military action to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone.

Nato's airstrikes have since divided the council, however. Russia, China, South Africa and India insist that the military alliance breached the resolution.

Zuma said the council had to avoid a repeat of the Libya episode when the AU had its own political initiative, which the president said was "completely ignored in favour of bombing Libya by Nato forces."

"The consequences of the actions that were carried out in Libya in the name of the United Nations Security Council have spilled over into other countries in the region," Zuma told the meeting, which was attended by ministers from Africa and council members.

NATO insists its military action in Libya was within the UN resolutions and UN ambassadors from its members say the Security Council was fully aware of the kind of action to be carried out.

But Zuma said African Union views "must be listened to if we are to strengthen our relationship and prevent conflict".

He also said there must be no return to the Cold War, when Africa was a "playground" for the rival sides battling for influence.

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