SA warns against UN call for Syria regime change

2011-06-17 08:06

South Africa’s foreign minister has said that the UN Security Council must not rush into a resolution condemning Syria’s crackdown on protests and “insinuating” regime change.

“We cannot say that for every country we come across that we rush to resolutions already insinuating regime change even before we start the political discussion,” Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters at the UN headquarters.

South Africa is one of three key countries, with Brazil and India, which is resisting a European draft resolution on Syria that has been under negotiation for more than two weeks.

Britain has called for more talks today on the text, which Russia and China have indicated they would veto.

“It is vital that all UN Security Council members engage on the text,” said a British diplomat. Russia and China boycotted the last talks.

South Africa has signalled that much of its opposition to the Syria resolution is based on the NATO air strikes in Libya that it says go beyond UN resolutions allowing action to protect civilians.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the NATO bombing must stop.

“Of course,” she said when asked if her government was demanding an end to the bombing by European and US-led militaries.

A campaign by the African Union to reach a ceasefire between Muammar Gaddafi and opposition rebels “is being obstructed by the bombing,” the minister said.

“We were very clear from the outset that when we called for the cessation of hostilities and bombardments by Colonel Gaddafi against his own people we were not necessarily calling for the replacement of the bombardment by other forces,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

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