SA says Libyan people must decide who governs them

2011-03-31 12:29

South Africa today rejected foreign pressure to drive Muammar Gaddafi from power, saying Western-led bombings in Libya should be limited to enforcing a United Nations no-fly zone.

“We don’t think it’s an issue for outsiders to decide,” foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela told reporters in Pretoria.

“It’s the people of Libya who should decide who should govern them and how they should be governed, which is why we will always be opposed to the principle or the doctrine of regime change because it’s not an issue for outsiders.”

South Africa as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council voted to impose a no-fly zone on the country and is one of five heads of state on a high-level African Union panel on Libya.

The government supported the resolution to protect Libya’s people and Monyela said it was “a good decision” by the council.

“We understood ... that action would have to be taken if the no-fly zone is not respected, which is why we have not said we have necessarily a problem with the action that has been taken,” he said.

“But if you read the resolution itself, you will see it is very clear about no military intervention or foreign occupation of Libya and that is also the position of the African Union.”

Monyela was speaking after a meeting of the South African cabinet yesterday repeated African Union calls for an immediate ceasefire and called for restraint to avoid further casualties.

The cabinet said the African body’s high-level panel was the only “viable solution” for peaceful resolution of the crisis in a manner that responds to the legitimate needs of the Libyan people.

“As South Africa we say no to the killing of civilians, no to the regime change doctrine and no to the foreign occupation of Libya or any other sovereign state,” the cabinet said in a statement.

The government also “categorically rejects any efforts of using the current crisis in Libya to effect regime change while recognising the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy and reform”.

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