Gaddafi is not Libyan leader, but has influence – SA

2011-03-01 15:40

Muammar Gaddafi is no longer “technically speaking” the leader of Libya or the forces loyal to him, but still wields “major influence” in the events unfolding there, South African international relations officials said.

South Africa’s ambassador to Libya, Mohammed Dangor, and International Relations and Co-operation deputy minister Marius Fransman were speaking at a press conference in Cape Town.Dangor said Gaddafi was “technically correct” when he said he was not the leader of the country.

In an interview with the BBC, Gaddafi said: “If they want me to step down, what do I step down from? I’m not a monarch or a king.”

In the same interview he said he was not the president and that his position was an honorary one.Dangor said Libya was a state at war with itself with two centres of power – one based in the Libyan capital city of Tripoli in the west of the country and the other in the city of Benghazi in the east of the country.

Fransman said Gaddafi had a major influence in events in Libya, but that “legally, he is not the head of state”.

Asked why South Africa had not condemned Gaddafi’s call for forces loyal to him to kill any opposition, Fransman said South Africa condemned all forms of violence including that carried out by Libyan authorities.

When asked if South Africa would consider granting exile to the Libyan leader if it brought an end to the violence in the country, Fransman said that the South African government could not deal with hypothetical questions. He said South Africa would not take sides in the dispute. “It is the people of that country that need to resolve internal issues to find sustainable peace.

Violence is violence and it needs to be condemned,” he said.The government had evacuated 30 South Africans, nine SADC citizens and one British national.South Africa would continue to monitor the situation in the country and “remains committed to provide assistance upon request from the Libyan people in ensuring a smooth transition to democratic rule”.

Fransman said South Africa had voted in favour of the United Nations Security Council resolution that was adopted on February 26. “We are confident that the measures contained in this resolution will contribute towards the long-term objective of bringing peace and stability to this sister nation. South Africa calls on the Government and people of Libya to seek a speedy and peaceful resolution to the current crisis in accordance with the will of the people.” Dangor said that the South African embassy in Libya was not closed.

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