SA forced to make U-turn on Libya

2011-09-20 17:35

For the second time this year South Africa had to make a U-turn in its international diplomacy when it reluctantly recognised the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate authority in the North African state.

South Africa was forced to follow the lead of the African Union (AU) when the continental body announced that the NTC may take the place vacated by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Earlier this year, during the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa also changed its position mid-way and decided to recognise Alassane Ouattara as the legitimate president of the West African country.

Previously South Africa insisted that incumbent Laurent Gbagbo had reason to believe he had won the elections.

Since August this year many AU countries have recognised the NTC, but South Africa was the spanner in the works at the AU, insisting that the rebels are unknown and untested and therefore should not be recognised on continental level.

Suggestions were made by senior South African government leaders that the rebels were in the pockets of Western countries like France and the United States and could no be trusted.

Others believed the rebels were responsible for killing black Africans in Libya and were therefore racist in their actions.

This seems to have all been forgotten when president Jacob  Zuma today told a UN high-level meeting that the AU recognised the NTC and was ready to work with them and other Libyan stakeholders.

“In this new phase South Africa and the AU remain committed to assist the Libyans in their quest for peace and stability,” he told the meeting, which was arranged by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

He asked for Nato’s military campaign to be stopped immediately as the “initial threat that warranted the no-fly zone no longer exists”.

He said those responsible for killing black Africans should be brought to book.

At the UN meeting US president Barack Obama and French president Nicolas Sarkozy gave themselves imaginary high-fives in celebrating the success of the Nato military campaign which brought the Gaddafi regime to its knees.

“This is how the international community should work in the 21st century,”  Obama told the UN meeting.

Sarkozy issued a warning to leaders clinging to power through undemocratic means.

“Henceforth the international community will take action with weapons in their hands,” he said.

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