Zuma no longer headed for Libya


President Jacob Zuma is no longer headed for Libya as announced earlier this week, his office says. Zuma is one of five leaders appointed a week ago by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council to mediate an end to fighting there.

Zuma is now sending Minister of State Security, Siyabonga Cwele, Deputy Minister of International Relations Ebrahim Ebrahim and security adviser Welile Nhlapo to the north African state to take part in an African Union fact-finding mission aimed at starting talks between the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi and rebels who are trying to end his 42-year rule.

They will join other members of the High Level Panel appointed by the AU, namely Uganda, Mauritania, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo this weekend.

Zuma said in the National Assembly yesterday South Africa will coordinate its position on Libya with other members of the AU. “South Africa does not operate in a vacuum on international matters. It operates within the ambit of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations. We regarded the Libyan situation very seriously from the beginning and Government has not been silent or inactive on this matter,” he said.
“We began engaging with other Heads of State and Government on this matter when events started unfolding, as we were very concerned about the situation. The South African government has also spoken out on various platforms on this matter. We called on all parties involved to exercise restraint in order to prevent further loss of life. We also called on the Government and people of Libya to seek a speedy and peaceful resolution to the current crisis in accordance with the will of the people. 
“Furthermore, on 26 February 2011 at the United Nations Security Council, the South African government, through its Permanent Representative, Ambassador Baso Sangqu, condemned the loss of civilian lives in Libya.
“The Minister and Deputy Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation as well as other Government representatives have also spoken out on the loss of life in various public forums.

We have also expressed our views directly to the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gadhafi, regarding the unacceptable violence and loss of civilian lives,” he told MPs during question time.

Deputy international relations minister Marius Fransman Tuesday said 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.” He added 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.

Zuma last week instructed Treasury to freeze Gadhafi’s assets in South Africa in accordance with an earlier UN Security Council resolution. In February, the UN enforced sanctions resolution on Libyan forces a travel ban and assets froze Gaddafi, his inner circle and members of the Libyan leader’s family.

Yesterday, the UNSC tightened the rope by imposing a no-fly zone over the country to stop Gaddafi’s attacks on rebels.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party welcomed the United Nations Security Council decision, saying it was “pleased that South Africa was one of the 10 countries that voted … to adopt the resolution, which will provide some measure of protection to the embattled citizens of Libya under attack from their own government forces.”

The DA also note that five Arab nations, namely Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have stated their support of the no-fly zone, party Shadow Deputy Minister of International Relations Stevens Mokgalapa said. “We hope that this resolution, and the fact that it is supported by these five nations, will send a strong message to Muammar Gadhafi that further persecution of Libya’s civilian population will not be tolerated. The international community has almost uniformly condemned the violent clampdown by government forces and we believe this resolution is a step in the right direction.”