AU tasks five leaders with Libya mediation

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The African Union said today that the presidents of South Africa, Mauritania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali and Uganda had been asked to form a high-level committee to help resolve the conflict in Libya.

The committee would look “to engage with all parties in Libya, facilitate an inclusive dialogue among them, and engage AU partners, as part of the overall efforts, for the speedy resolution of the crisis in Libya”, said a statement issued from the bloc’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.

The five presidents who will sit on the committee are South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso, Amadou Toumani Toure from Mali, Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz from Mauritania.

They will be joined on the committee by Jean Ping, president of the AU Commission.

“Consultations are underway for the Committee to urgently begin its work,” said the statement.

The decision to create the committee was taken at a meeting of the AU’s peace and security council in the Ethiopian capital on Thursday.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has worked hard and used his country’s oil wealth to cultivate alliances within Africa and has been the prime proponent of forging a so-called United States of Africa.

While there have been widespread calls for Gaddafi to quit from the West, the reaction in Africa has been much more muted.

South Africa’s deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that Pretoria would not call on Gaddafi to step down as it subscribes to the international principle of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries” although it did call for an immediate halt to the killing of civilians.

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