Unity government for Libya, says SA minister

2011-08-22 09:23

South Africa is expecting a unity government consisting of elements from the Gaddafi government and the rebels in Benghazi to take Libya forward after the “imminent fall” of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters today.

Peppered with questions about weekend reports indicating that Gaddafi had asked for asylum in South Africa, an impatient Nkoana-Mashabane said she knew “for a fact” that Gaddafi would not ask for asylum here. She declined to elaborate, but indicated later that South Africa was a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which had issued an arrest warrant for Gaddafi.

According to an Al-Jazeera report, South African aircraft have landed in Tripoli, but South African officials are saying the only South African aircraft in “that part of the world” is a South African Defence Force aeroplane that is due to evacuate South Africans and embassy staff.

It is speculated that South Africa would transport Gaddafi to a location outside Libya where he would seek asylum, but Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa had no such plans.

Instead, Nkoana-Mashabane outlined that once Gaddafi was removed, a constitution-making process was due to start, followed by a referendum to endorse the constitution.

Nkoana-Mashabane said that despite Gaddafi’s imminent fall, South Africa would not recognise the rebels as the legitimate government.

“We have no reason to create a state within a state (by endorsing the rebels). If this government falls there is no government, but we know there were discussions about a transitional authority in Libya, which will include elements of Tripoli and the rebels’ transitional national council,” she said.

According to reports from Tripoli, fighting is continuing outside Gaddafi’s compound, but the rebels had not been able to advance into the compound as yet.

Nkoana-Mashabane remained adamant that although the Libyan crisis seems to be coming to an end, bloodshed could have been avoided.“What we know from Iraq and Afghanistan is that the visitors will come and go but the citizens will have to deal with the reconstruction of the country.”

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