Ban: Libya a warning to authoritarians

2011-03-21 13:33

Cairo - The Libya war and revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia should be a warning to authoritarian leaders in the Middle East and North Africa still ordering forces to shoot demonstrators, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said.

Ban, who has castigated the king of Bahrain and strongly condemned the repression of demonstrations in Yemen and Syria in recent days, told AFP as he began a trip to Egypt and Tunisia on Monday that other nations have a duty to speak out.

"It is clear that a wind of change is sweeping this region," he said in an interview.

"The international community, while we closely follow the situation, has a responsibility to help those people, so that leaders could hear clearly and sincerely the voices of the people, their aspirations."

Urging reforms

The UN secretary general said leaders in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria must have seen the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya where Muammar Gaddafi's brutal crackdown led to UN-sanctioned military strikes.

"We are living in an era of globalisation and communications, so they must have been following and they must have been listening to what the international community expects them to do," Ban said.

"I have been talking to all the leaders in the region, all the leaders without exception, every day, urging them to take bold reform measures that respect the will of their people and ensure freedom of speech."

In Syria, security forces have shot and killed several demonstrators in the southern town of Deraa. Ban last week called for "genuine reforms, not repression."

In the Yemeni capital Sana'a, more than 50 demonstrators have been killed.


The UN chief condemned the government and on Sunday said he doubted that President Ali Abdullah Saleh's decision to sack the government would calm the population.

Ban spoke with the Bahrain's monarch, King Hamad, last week to highlight his "deepest concern over reports of excessive and indiscriminate use of force by security forces and police in Bahrain".

He warned that their actions could breach international humanitarian law.

The Arab League was instrumental in getting the UN Security Council to pass Resolution 1973 last week which approved military action against Gaddafi.

Ban has called the resolution "historic" because it "affirms unequivocally, the international community's determination to fulfil its responsibility to protect civilians from violence perpetrated upon them by their own government".


Leaders have a duty to maintain order, Ban told AFP. "But in doing that they must exercise maximum restraint and caution, fully respecting human rights. I will continue to speak out."

Ban is starting his tour with meetings with the Egyptian military and interim government on the dramatic changes since the fall in February of Hosni Mubarak.

He will hold similar meetings in Tunisia which set off the Arab revolution.

Egypt faced a new decisive moment with Saturday's referendum on a new constitution.

"Leaders have a responsibility to sincerely and authentically listen to the voices and aspirations of the people and take broad-based measures" with the opposition, civic groups, youth leaders "and particularly women leaders," Ban said.

'Fuller democracy'

"This is a quite historic moment; this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to see the progress of democratisation, fuller democracy."

Ban said he would discuss possible UN assistance in electoral processes, constitution drafting, and social and economic development, during his stay in Cairo and Tunis.

He said he would also meet opposition leaders and civic groups. "Then I will try to say what I have heard, what I have seen, what I believe the United Nations can do."

  • Betsy - 2011-03-21 13:53

    "Leaders have a responsibility to sincerely and authentically listen to the voices and aspirations of the people and take broad-based measures" with the opposition, civic groups, youth leaders "and particularly women leaders," Ban said. Oh really - but in Zimbabwe people are killed daily and nothing is said or done. Double standards, Sir!

      Francois - 2011-03-21 14:58

      His name is Ban ki Moon, not Ban ki Earth - he does not know where Zimbabwe is.

      Jamiside - 2011-03-21 15:42

      Plain and simple answer, there's no oil in Zimbabwe, so the pathetic american's and their allies don't care.

      slg - 2011-03-21 18:08

      It's the start of the new time. Zimbabwe's time will come, probably very soon. These are very positive events. We should support them wholeheartedly. Ban speaks well about them. Jamiside, it's not about oil. Libya only produces 2% of the world's oil. And if it wasn't for the US and "their pathetic allies" you wouldn't be able to express yourself freely as you are now.

      Sword&Cross - 2011-03-22 06:50

      zuma and the ANC double standards will soon have similar or same reaction as the treatment Libya is getting. The despotism descending over the whole of Southern Africa is unacceptable to the western worlds, even if not to china.

  • Win14 - 2011-03-21 14:08

    The UN is obviously promoting anarchy if a handful of rebels in every country get the support of the UN against the established systems and governments in those countries. The UN and Western countries make it sound as if there is the dictator plus 10 bodyguards on the one side, and the rest of the country on the other. This is a total misconception. In fact I was informed that in some cases, the rebels are in the minority. If you know any better and can provide approximate statistics about numbers of supporters and opponents in Libya, Syria, Yemen etc, I'd be very interested to hear from you. If the supporters are in the majority, no foreign nation has the right to breach a country's sovereign status by supporting any kind of military invasion. It is every country's right to deal with a minority uprising in a decisive manner especially if the rebels indulge in wilful destruction of any kind.

      fazal.k.esq1 - 2011-03-21 14:22

      You're 100% right but those useless people are reading your comments and taking bit of it as serious?

      Francois - 2011-03-21 15:00

      Win14, please help us brainless people and tell when the last election dates in Lybia, Iran, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain were? Then we will get the answer for you.

      Steve Wonderboy - 2011-03-21 15:06

      When the army is under your control, it does not matter if the rebellion is the majority or the minority of your population. What chance does a rebel group of whatever numbers have against an army with superior weapons who's profession it is to kill? Would like to see you face up to a tank with only a machine gun and the clothes on your back. Whether they are a minority or a majority they are still civilians. Non-interference is not an option.

      Valis - 2011-03-21 15:07

      Let me spell it out for you...O I L. That is ALL the Western powers are interested in, while pretending they are doing it for altruistic reasons. Do not be fooled.

      Steve Wonderboy - 2011-03-21 16:51

      @Valis let me spell it out for you. L I V E S. These are real human beings who's lives are at risk at this very minute and you want to come with your conspiracy bullshit. The other countries may have an anterior motive but that's neither here nor there. Leave tomorrow's problems for tomorrow and focus on today.

      Win14 - 2011-03-21 18:41

      Listen SteveWonderboy, of course non-involvement is always an option, especially if you don't really know who is who in that country. And no, it's not about the oil - that's just an excuse and the uninformed's obfuscation. It's just an ideal chance for the world to finally f*ck up this Gaddafi madman because he is "evil" and untrustworthy. Obama would rather deal with ayatollah because he is one himself. Yes, I agree, if you own the army you are in charge. But why do you own the army? Because they are part of the majority supporting you. And yes, the 10% rebelling civilians are still human beings one ought to protect, but what if the 10% Coloureds in South Africa would rise and trash everything? Would you ask the UN and Obama to come and stuff them up?

      Steve Wonderboy - 2011-03-21 19:11

      If the coloureds in this country were to stand up and take over half the land would you really believe that they are a minority? This country may just be a better place if they were to do that. I know the western powers that be have been really inconsistent when it comes to intervening, but from I have seen the people have spoken. Who gives Gadaffi the right to go against their will?

      slg - 2011-03-21 20:15

      You don't know who's who in Libya. The Allies do. Steve Wonderboy speaks good sense. You'd be well advised to accept his thoughts. They're true.

      slg - 2011-03-21 20:16

      Fazal Esq. hater of the Queen and all things British, where do you live? Which country?

      slg - 2011-03-21 20:23

      For the record, as in Tunisia and Egypt, the protests were peaceful. It was Gadaffi, true to his personality, that resorted to arms to suppress and oppress the protests. He did this in a far more aggressive and violent way than in Tunisia and Egypt. So, it's not true to say the protestors trashed everything. If you're starting from this position then it's understandable that you would arrive at the wrong conclusion, as you have done.

  • mugabe - 2011-03-21 21:54

    To hell with this puppet of the West & clowns of America. No second term to Zuma & Obama for being chickens without backbones

      slg - 2011-03-22 04:37

      In other words, to hell with everyone

  • wmutahi - 2011-03-22 08:45

    After Ban's tenure is over, am sure he'll write a biography and let the world know how his balls were squeezed over the libya debacle. Ban stop making a fool of yourself, am sure even you don't believe half the crap you are talking about. So Libya has been selected to be an example for the rest? - how convenient?. The UN is toothless and has outsources its brains to Uncle Sam. I guess whoever pays the piper calls the tune right?

  • - 2011-03-25 10:01

    slg: get your facts right Libyan oil is a lot more then 2%/I aggree that there is double standards in the UN. No oil no help US Hitler

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