WATCH | AU calls sanctions against Zimbabwe 'immoral', wants more involvement in Libya

2020-02-10 17:49
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Linda Longhurst)

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Linda Longhurst)

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The African Union (AU) is gearing up to send its own observer mission with cooperation from the United Nations to war-torn Libya.

This development comes after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres met with the AU during a summit in Ethiopia to strategise on solutions to end the conflict in Libya.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui said the AU intends to join the UN once an agreement on the cessation of hostilities is signed.

He said the AU also felt very strongly that it needed to deploy its own mission to Tripoli.

"We want the cessation of hostilities to be fully respected, the UN embargo to be strictly respected and we want the immediate cessation of all external interventions and interference in Libyan affairs. With those developments, we expect the African Union will move its mission to Tripoli and we are grateful that the UN is fully supporting us and showing total willingness for cooperation on this front," he said.

Libya has been beset by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with rival administrations in the east and the west vying for power.

The beleaguered Tripoli government, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, has been under sustained attack since April by military strongman General Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Turkey's regional rivals - Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, AFP reported.

President Ramaphosa takes the lead in South Sudan talks 

Meanwhile, with just 12 days to go before the deadline for a united government in South Sudan, the AU is pressed to find a solution for the region.

One of President Cyril Ramaphosa's first missions as the new AU chairperson will be to ensure that negotiations are running smoothly between the warring factions.

Chergui said Ramaphosa met with rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir to iron out the last details of the negotiations.

The two rival leaders have missed two key deadlines to form a transitional unity government in the past. The already fragile peace process could be threatened should an agreement fail between the two leaders.

The peace and security commissioner is optimistic that the South Sudanese leaders will reach an agreement before the deadline.

In the years-long conflict, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced.

Chergui said the last remaining issue is about how many states the country should have.

"There are proposals to have 23 plus one. The ten has been brought to 32 as we speak. The opposition does not agree with that. Hopeful that this agreement will be solved within 12 days," he said.

AU calls for end to sanctions against Sudan, Zimbabwe

The AU's peace and security commission has also called for an end to sanctions against Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Labelling sanctions on Zimbabwe as "immoral", Chergui said the AU will travel to the United States and Europe to call for an end to sanctions against the cash-strapped country.

The AU also joined a UN call made on Sunday that Sudan be removed from the US list of countries supporting terrorist groups.

"If you don't release Sudan from that list, none of the international financial organisations can step in to help. We welcome ongoing dialogue and we hope this issue is brought to an end very quickly," Chergui said.  

Read more on:    au  |  cyril ramaphosa
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