Tuesday, July 05, 2011

African Union Rejects ICC Arrest Warrants Against Libyan Leaders

African Union Rejects ICC Arrest Warrants Against Libyan Leaders

Imperialists and their allies reject continental organization's peace plan

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

This year's 17th African Union Summit was held in Malabo, the capital the former Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea, between June 30-July 2. The meeting of the 53-member organization of African states spent considerable time in further attempts to broker a ceasefire in the nearly five month-old imperialist war against Libya.

During the course of the AU gathering, a number of other important issues related to economic cooperation and the social conditions of youth, were overshadowed by the work of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Libya. In the latest plan to bring about the end to the US/NATO bombing, which began on March 19, and the rebel insurgency that was initiated on Feb. 17, the AU called for an immediate halt to the bombing attacks and the beginning of serious negotiations aimed at establishing a political solution to the crisis inside the country.

In addition to pressure from the AU, the Russian government called for a ceasefire by NATO in a meeting with the imperialist-led military alliance on July 3. South African President Jacob Zuma flew to Moscow in the aftermath of the AU Summit to provide further impetus to efforts aimed at achieving a ceasefire.

Despite reports on July 3 that the Libyan government and the Transitional National Council (TNC)rebel group, that is backed by the U.S. and NATO, had both agreed to the terms for a ceasefire and negotiations, the western-backed counter-revolutionaries rejected the plan outright along with Washington. The AU plan, which is purportedly based in part on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 as well as the continental organization's "roadmap", would bring about the cessation of hostilities, a comprehensive ceasefire, the reconciliation of the conflicting parties inside Libya and the holding of internationally-supervised national elections.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe told journalists after arriving at Harare International Airport from the AU Summit in Equatorial Guinea that he was quite pleased with the outcome of the annual meeting. "Yes, yes we are happy. Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and countries in other parts of Africa were happy with the outcome on Libya." (Zimbabwe Sunday Mail, July 3)

Mugabe then added that "NATO should stop its terrorist attack on Libya. NATO cannot continue attacking Libya because they are not the rulers of the world. The United Nations should stand against NATO."

President Zuma of South Africa had also expressed hope that the results of the AU Summit would bring an end to the war against Libya. Zuma noted that the framework advanced by the AU was the best mechanism for securing peace in Libya.

The political measures put forward by the AU Summit would have resulted in the lifting of the siege imposed on cities and the cantonement of all troops, militias and armed elements from all parties, the ending of all attacks and abuses against civilians, including those who were forced to leave the country, the release of political prisoners and unrestricted and unhindred access to civilians in dire need of humanitarian relief.

The African Union Ad-Hoc Committee on Libya stated that "The ceasefire shall be linked to and followed by a political process, which will commence with the consensual and inclusive transition period and culminate with democratic elections to enable the Libyan people to freely choose their leaders. The national dialogue shall be completed within a period of 30 days maximum, unless the parties and other stakeholders decide otherwise." (AU Statement on Libya)

However, a report published in allheadlinenews.com pointed out that "Rebel spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga said that they outright dismissed the AU plan because it did not meet their basic demands, which calls for the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, his sons and aids from his inner circle. Ghoga said the AU offer would have Gaddafi in power something that was not acceptable to them." (July 4)

The African Union has since March 11 issued several communiques calling for a ceasefire in Libya and the withdrawal of foreign involvement in the civil war. All of those proposals have been rejected by the imperialist states now bombing the North African country as well as providing assistance to the TNC rebels.

AU Rejects ICC Warrants Amid More Provocations by the U.S. and France

Another important development in the imperialist war on Libya is the refusal of the African Union to accept the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrants issued against the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence head Abdullah al-Senussi. In a statement issued during the Malabo Summit, the continental organization clearly emphasizes that "AU member-states shall not cooperate in the execution of the arrest warrants." (AU Statement on ICC Warrants)

The continental organization also said that the ICC warrants "seriously complicates the efforts aimed at finding a negotiated political settlement to the crisis in Libya, which will also address, in a mutually reinforcing way, issues related to impunity and reconciliation." This is not the first time that the AU has rejected the ICC targeting of African leaders when the organization took a similar position in regard to attempts aimed at arresting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2009.

While the AU was working to achieve a peaceful settlement in Malabo, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued the blatant provocative rhetoric against the Libyan government. The Obama administration's top diplomat stopped over in Madrid, Spain on July 2, where Clinton reiterated the demand that the Libyan leadership be overthrown.

In reference to Muammar Gaddafi, Clinton said that "He should step down from power. The rebels are gaining strength and momentum. We need to see this through." (Associated Press, July 2)

Clinton also said "We will continue exerting the same military and political pressure." Clinton also praised the austerity measures imposed by the Spanish government on the working class which is suffering from a 20 percent unemployment rate resulting from the world capitalist economic crisis.

Meanwhile the open supplying of arms by France to the rebels fighting the Libyan government has been condemned by the AU and Russia. AU Commission Chair Jean Ping said during the Malabo Summit that the French weapons "will be used to destablize African states and to kidnap tourists for whom you pay ransom." (sbpost.ie, July 3)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the arms drop represented a "crude violation" of a United Nations arms embargo that was called for in the Security Council Resolution 1970. However, the U.S. State Department justified the French arms shipments to the rebels saying "We believe that UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 read together neither specified nor precluded defense material to the Libyan opposition." (Al-Jazeera, June 30)

World Opposition Grows to Imperialist War on Libya

Inside Libya itself the defense forces have continued to hit rebel positions in the Nafusah Mountains and other areas of the country. A recent demonstration in Tripoli brought out a million people in support of the government and in opposition to the imperialist war.

At the same time demonstrations and public meetings are continuing in the United States to oppose the war. In Harlem, a coalition of various Pan-Africanists, Leftists and Anti-War forces have called for a Millions March in defense of Libya and other African states under attack by the Western countries.

According to the Final Call newspaper, a publication of the Nation of Islam under Minister Louis Farrakhan, "Disturbed by what they see as a White House that has ignored their concerns, anti-war activists called a press conference in Harlem to announce the "Millions March in Harlem" protest and their demand for an end to the bombing of the North African nation of Libya and ending the illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe in Southern Africa." (Final Call, June 29)

The march is endorsed by a host of organizations including the Freedom Party, the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party (A-APRP), the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), the Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People, the International Association Against Torture, the International Action Center (IAC) and the International ANSWER Coalition, among others.

The demonstration is calling for the immediate halt to the U.S. involvement in the war against Libya. Even though the Obama administration has said that the Pentagon's engagement in Libya is "limited", the U.S. military is still conducting bombing operations against the people.

In a press release issued by Defence Web on July 4, it states that "U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft are still flying hundreds of strike missions over Libya. An Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokeswoman told the Army Times on June 29 that U.S. military aircraft have flown hundreds of strike missions since NATO's Operation Unified Protector took over from the American-led Operation Odyssey Dawn on March 31."

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