SA wants end to air strikes, hostilities in Libya


South Africa is calling for the immediate end of air strikes and other hostilities in Libya as well as cooperation in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to a needy population. Deputy international relations minister Marius Fransman added the conflict in Libya “is taking on the character of a civil war as Muammar Gadhafi’s regime recovers from its earlier reversals and consolidates its forces.”

The deputy minister added the South Africa government continues to monitor the deteriorating security situation there and is calling on all parties involved to bring to a halt all acts of violence in order to prevent further loss of life.
“South Africa supports the AU position calling for the immediate end of air strikes and other hostilities, the cooperation of the competent Libyan authorities to facilitate the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy population and the adoption and implementation of the political reforms necessary for the elimination of the cause of the current conflict,” he said in a statement released at a media briefing on current affairs in Cape Town yesterday.

Fransman added President Jacob Zuma and his counterparts from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Mauritania and Uganda will travel to Libya within days to assess an mediate the crisis gripping the north African state. Fransman says the five presidents will do so in their capacity as a high-level panel appointed by the African Union (AU) last week to mediate an end to bloodshed in Libya.
“This panel will arrive this weekend or next week. Fransman said Libyan army units and pro-regime forces “continue to use air strikes and heavy artillery, pushing a fierce offensive against the rebels and have driven them out of several cities and towns along the coast.”

He reminded that France and Britain are considering a draft resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya, even though there remain disagreements over military intervention. He adds the Arab League supports a no-fly zone over Libya and has suspended Libya’s participation at the forum, while the Gulf Cooperation Council also supports a no-fly zone. South Africa’s IBSA partners have however “expressed their aversion to the move by some western countries to impose a military solution to the conflict in Libya”.

The AU’s Libya panel shows some overlap with a similar body established recently to mediate the post-election crisis in the Cote d’Ivoire. The AU High Level Panel for the Resolution of the Crisis in Côte d’Ivoire includes Zuma as well as the leaders of Mauritania (North Africa), Burkina Faso (West Africa), Chad (Central Africa) and Tanzania (East Africa).