AU still has role in Libya: Zuma


The African Union still has an important role to play in Libya, President Jacob Zuma said yesterday, adding that UN Security Council resolution 1973 had been “abused to further means other than to protect civilians.”

“Those who have a lot of capacity to bomb other countries really undermined the AU’s initiatives and effort to deal with the matter in Libya,” he said. Speaking during the signing of two memoranda of agreement at Tuynhuis between South Africa and a Ghanaian delegation led by the President of Ghana, John Atta Mills, Zuma said a lot of lives could have been saved had the bombings been averted, the state BuaNews agency said.

Ahead of an AU meeting in Addis Ababa on Thursday and Friday, in which a high-level committee is expected to discuss the situation in Libya, Zuma said he stood by the AU roadmap on Libya. “We believe that the AU position has been the most logical one, the most important and we believe that it still has a role at the moment, because at the heart of it, it says that the Libyan people must be given the chance to meet and decide their own destiny,” he said. Zuma said the AU wanted to see Libya emerge as a democratic country with a constitution crafted by the Libyan people.

Mills said his country is studying the situation in Libya and would take a decision soon on what position to take, adding that if Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi should approach the country for asylum, Ghana would take such an application “on its own merits.” Mills also echoed Zuma’s statements that any decision on Libya would be made in the interests of the Libyan people. “We do not, and never have said that any country belongs to any one individual, it belongs to the people,” said Mills. Earlier, Ghana and South Africa signed memoranda of co-operation in tourism as well as in economic and technical co-operation.

In recent years, trade between Ghana and SA – with SA exports having trebled in 10 years – grew from R1 billion in 1998 to over R3 billion in 2008. Zuma said there were more than 80 SA companies registered in Ghana and operating in sectors such as mining, retail, insurance, transport, tourism, telecommunication, banking and energy, among others. He said new opportunities outlined included tourism, communication and technology, mining and agriculture and infrastructure development.

The two countries were also widening co-operation on science and technology and were presently working together on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project with a number of other African countries, he said. Zuma said the project would lead to improved information and communication technologies for all Africans and improve economic performance. “We are all working hard to ensure that Africa is the winner when the bid is announced early next year,” he said.

Zuma and Mills had also discussed the need to transform the UN Security Council and international finance organisations to better reflect the increasingly important role of Africa and the developing world. Zuma thanked Ghana for the support it had given South Africa during the struggle and said Ghana had a “special place” in the history of the African continent, particularly as its first president, Kwame Nkrumah, had helped inspire other African countries as the continent shed the yoke of colonialism.