AU demands UN discuss Libya crisis

The African Union has instructed the three African member-states of the UN Security Council to call for an urgent meeting of the world body to discuss the West’s continued use of force against the Gaddafi regime.

For the first time since the start of the civil war in Libya, African heads of state met this week to address the crisis that has claimed more than 10 000 lives. The hastily organised extraordinary session in Addis Ababa resolved that South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon – all three current Security Council members – should also call for a session of the entire UN General Assembly to discuss the crisis. All three African nations voted for resolution 1973 in February.

The AU now says it is “of the well-considered view that the continuation of the Nato-led military operation defeats the purpose for which it was authorised in the first place – the protection of the civilian population – and further complicates any transition to a democratic dispensation...”

“A dangerous precedent has been set by one-sided (mainly British and French) interpretations of the resolution, in an attempt to provide a legal authority for military and other actions on the ground that are clearly outside the scope of these resolutions, and at the resulting negative impact on the efforts aimed at building an international order based on legality.”

This issue will also be discussed tomorrow at a meeting in Cairo of the AU, the League of Arab States, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the EU and the UN, “to work out practical steps for a ceasefire and the launching of a political process that would lead to a lasting solution to the crisis”.

The Cairo meeting will coincide with the announced visit by President Jacob Zuma to Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli where he is to further engage the embattled Libyan leader on establishing a holding ceasefire.

In an extraordinarily hard-hitting statement, the AU expressed “Africa’s surprise and disappointment at the attempts to marginalise the continent in the management of the Libyan conflict”.

It says only a political solution to the current conflict will make it possible to promote “sustainable peace in Libya and fulfil the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people to democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights and good governance, as well as preserve the unity and territorial integrity of Libya”.

It reiterated the need for an immediate end to all attacks against civilians, as well as an immediate ceasefire to be monitored by a credible, effective and verifiable international mechanism.

Zuma is expected to put the roadmap to Gaddafi and inform him of the AU’s intention to immediately send an observer group to Libya to monitor the ceasefire.

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