Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, speaks to journalists at United Nations headquarters following her country's election to the Security Council., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
SA slams Nato's 'regime change' in Libya in UN speech
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA Jun 15 2011 21:12
South Africa on Wednesday accused Nato of deliberately targeting Muammar Gaddafi and warned that its military campaign in Libya could paralyse other United Nations Security Council action.
South Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane gave a thinly veiled warning to the 15-member council that the air strikes in Libya were harming efforts to agree on a resolution regarding Syria's crackdown on protests.
South Africa and the African Union demanded greater efforts at the meeting to reach a ceasefire between Gaddafi and opposition rebels.
As one of the 15 Security Council members, South Africa voted for United Nations resolution 1973 in March, which gave a mandate to protect civilians in Libya.
Nkoana-Mashabane told a joint Security Council-African Union meeting on Libya that "our intention was never regime change nor was it the targeting of individuals as it seems to be the case with Colonel Gaddafi," according to a copy of her speech, released to reporters.
"This is manifested by the ostensible systematic targeting of his residence, which led to the death of one of his sons and grandchildren," Nkoana-Mashabane added.
'Not targeting Gaddafi'
Nato has strongly denied that its attacks have targeted Gaddafi. Western governments have insisted that they are acting within the mandate of the UN resolution, allowing the protection of Libyan civilians.
The minister reaffirmed accusations made by South African President Jacob Zuma this week that Nato has exceeded its mandate. She said it was "now engaged in activities that insinuate regime change".
"Nato activities will undoubtedly have a bearing on other important matters that the council has to deal with in accordance with its mandate," Nkoana-Mashabane said in reference to European efforts to get a resolution condemning the Syrian government crackdown on opposition protests.
"We hope that those implementing the resolution will heed this message or risk the paralysis of the council," she warned.
Russia and China have strongly opposed a resolution on Syria that has been proposed by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal. South Africa, Brazil and India have indicated they will abstain, partly because they fear a repeat of events in Libya.
Mauritania's Foreign Minister Hamady Ould Hamady, speaking for an AU delegation at the meeting, called for a "humanitarian pause" in the Libyan conflict.
He did not directly mention the Nato strikes but highlighted AU concerns about what he called the "dangerous precedent being set by the one-sided interpretations" of UN resolutions on Libya.
"We are held to the duty of keeping in mind the indescribable suffering inflicted upon the Libyan civilian population," the minister said.
"The prolongation of these military operations in Libya poses, each day, new challenges as much for the chances of a successful democratic transition in Libya as for the security and stability of the countries in the region."
Britain's ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant told reporters that "the pre-condition for a humanitarian pause is that Gaddafi stops attacking civilians."
French envoy Gerard Araud added: "French authorities believe that a peaceful and democratic future is not conceivable with Gaddafi; it is simple. It is common sense. But what counts is that the Libyans negotiate an end to this crisis themselves." -- Sapa-AFP
Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address: http://mg.co.za/article/2011-06-15-sa-slams-natos-regime-change-in-libya-un-speech
African Leaders Demand Halt to NATO Bombing Campaign in Libya
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
June 15 (Bloomberg) -- African leaders today demanded an immediate end to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's bombing campaign in Libya and called for the African Union and United Nations to take the lead in reaching a political solution.
"We have not voted for a substitute for bombing of one group by the other," South Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters in New York, referring to the UN resolution authorizing military action against Libya leader Muammar Qaddafi's regime, which her government supported. "All forms of military intervention and bombing must stop now."
Nkoana-Mashabane and ministers of Mali, Mauritania, Uganda and Republic of Congo, which formed the AU's Ad Hoc Committee on Libya, expressed their concern about the NATO bombing campaign to the UN Security Council. Adoption of a draft statement demanding a "complete end to violence and all attacks against and abuses of civilians" was blocked by the U.S. and other Western nations.
Western and Arab leaders have demanded an end to Qaddafi's four-decade rule, and NATO aircraft have targeted his forces in a military campaign about to enter its fourth month.
"This was a meeting for expressions of frustration," said Ambassador Nestor Osorio of Colombia, a Security Council member. Ambassador Jose Moraes Cabral of Portugal, also a council member, said Uganda's Foreign Minister Ruhakana Rugunda suggested the NATO intervention amounted to "going back to colonialism" in Africa.
Call from Russia, China
The meeting in New York followed a statement today by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security alliance led by China and Russia and including the former Soviet states of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, urging an end to the NATO campaign. "Domestic conflicts and crises have to be regulated exclusively by peaceful means, through political dialogue," the group said in Astana, Kazakhstan, where it is holding a summit.
The African ministers stopped short of directly criticizing the NATO campaign, saying only that it has contributed to a humanitarian crisis rather than a political solution.
"The situation also underscores the moral and also political imperative to seek a rapid solution, to spare the suffering of the civilian population, create conditions for the return of sustainable peace in Libya and to spare the region from new tribulations that stand the risk of plunging it back into instability," Mauritania's Foreign Minister Hamady Ould Hamady said.
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma was more direct yesterday in Cape Town, saying the UN resolution authorizing military action was "being abused for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation."
Hamady called for an "immediate humanitarian pause" in the fighting and expressed the AU's "surprise and disappointment at the attempts to marginalize the continent in the management of the Libyan conflict."
Britain's Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said a precondition of a halt to the NATO bombing was a cessation of attacks on civilians by the Qaddafi regime.
"The ball is in Qaddafi's court," Lyall Grant said.
--Editors: Steven Komarow, Terry Atlas