Wednesday, May 25, 2011

African Union Calls for End to NATO Bombing of Libya

AU calls for end to Nato bombings

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 21:24
Zimbabwe Herald
From Hebert Zharare in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

THE African Union extraordinary summit of Heads of State and Governments began here yesterday with African leaders calling for the immediate cessation of bombardment of Libya by Nato forces and urgent assistance to enable the North African country to return to normal political rule.

The leaders also expressed concern over the developments in Somalia, the Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire, where there were some fatal political clashes.

AU Commission chairperson Mr Jean Ping, UN secretary general Mr Ban Ki Moon, AU chairman and president of Equatorial Guinea, Mr Teodore Nguema Mbasogo, reiterated the need to expeditiously come up with a solution to the Libyan crisis.

They were unanimous that the challenges in the Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire were also supposed to be addressed and if possible set up mediation teams.

The summit coincided with the 48th anniversary of the founding of the predecessor of the African Union, the Organisation of African Unity.

The celebration was also held at the AU headquarters.

The AU Peace and Security Council that has 15 countries including Zimbabwe, immediately went into a closed door session after the opening and was still in session at the time of going to press.

The leaders will continue with the closed meeting today, after which there will be a Press conference.

The Herald has it on good authority that Zimbabwe, represented by the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces; President Mugabe categorically made it clear that the bombardment of Libya should stop forthwith.

"At first the AU countries failed to constitute a quorum required to call for a Summit to deal with the Libyan crisis and only Zimbabwe and Zambia were available.

On the second attempt there were 18 countries and finally 35 countries today, (yesterday) leading to the Summit," a source close to the developments said here yesterday.

The crisis in Libya has proved to be a thorny issue for the AU.

The meeting on the Libyan crisis comes against the backdrop of a series of meetings that were meant to hammer a solution to the matter that has seen Nato's air raids in the North Africa country killing thousands and injuring many people.

The Summit is coming on the heels of meetings between the United Nations, the European Union and the Africa Union Peace and Security Council early this year, where Africa categorically told the West that "hands off Libya".

African leaders also called on Libya to establish democratic structures of governance and recognise the rights of the people once the raids were over.

"The leaders agreed that Libya must move towards democracy while the rights of the people were supposed to be recognised. However, there was the UN Security Council resolution 1973 of 2011, which ushered in Chapter 7 of the UN, declaring a no fly zone in Libya," said the source.

War experts said the leaders who supported the no fly zone resolution did not understand that it meant the declaration of war on Libya.

A High Level ad hoc committee on Libya led by South African leader President Jacob Zuma then attempted to organise a meeting in Tripoli to immediately find a solution to the problem, but could not land in Libya because Nato bombardments had started.

The meeting ended up being held in Mauritania and some of its findings were high on the agenda at yesterday's Summit.

It also emerged that the Libyan issue was a complex one because the country belonged to three regions that include the AU, the Arab League and the Mediterranean region, which made it difficult for one region to determine a position and implement it.

"Europe is arguing that the roadmap to the crisis in Libya cannot come from one region, but from the three blocs. As it stands, it's the Arab and the Mediterranean leagues' position that is working in dealing with the crisis in Libya and their position was endorsed by the UN Security Council resolution 1973 of 2011.

"We are saying there should be no regime change agenda. What we want is to put in place new systems and the military situation ends first before we set up political structures," said the source.

Nato forces are determined to bring down the Libyan leader within the shortest possible time as it emerged that they have resorted to the use of high tech helicopters that search for targets with high precision.

Nato forces started bombarding Libya in February when the government responded to rebel attacks through force.

The meeting also touched on the developments in the Sudan, where troops from the north have moved and occupied oil rich areas. The skirmishes are worsening and there is need to reactivate the mediation team there, it was resolved.

"We want to douse the fire there," said the source.

Another hot spot the Summit touched yesterday was Cote d'Ivoire, where there were still some disturbances after the inauguration of president Alassane Ouattara.

The meeting was looking forward to seeing incumbent President Alassane Ouattara fulfilling the reconciliation gesture he pledged.

There are also reports of serious a humanitarian crisis in Cote d'Ivoire.

Mr Ouattara took over power from Laurent Gbagbo.

There are also challenges in Somalia, where the leaders were updated on the developments pertaining to the disagreements on the terms of offices for government and parliament.

Meanwhile, AU hosted the main Africa Day celebration, with the continental leadership calling for the crafting of economic policies that address "legitimate concerns and worries" of the youths to avoid unrest taking place in some parts of Africa.

AU Commission chairperson, Mr Jean Ping said it was imperative to address unemployment problems in Africa.

"The Arab spring marked by the groundswell that swept across Tunisia and Egypt right here on our continent, has confirmed the imperious need to address the legitimate concerns and worries of the youths who are the biggest component of our society.

‘‘They are increasingly becoming poor, discontented and more and more radical," he said.

This year's Africa Day celebration had the theme "Accelerating Youths Empowerment for a Sustainable Development."

He said after liberating the continent and strengthening solidarity among African states, the focus should now be on promoting sustainable development to benefit future generations.

"With the average of 5.2 children per woman, Africa registers the highest number of births in the world - the yearly birth rate of 2.2 percent. This is not therefore not surprising that about 10 million African youths knock at the door of the labour market every year," he said.

Mr Ping, however, said many of these youths would be ill prepared for the job market owing to poor education system obtaining in some parts of the continent.

However, Zimbabwe is not among such Africa countries because it has a high literacy rate of over 90 percent and its workforce is on demand the world over.

Mr Ping said over 70 percent of the youths in the continent lived on less than US$2 per day, an issue he said called for urgent intervention.

Statistics reveal that about 62 percent of the overall population of Africa is below 35 years old and more than 20 percent are between the 15 and 24 years age bracket.

"They (the youths) would stop at nothing to undertake the journey to this illusory promise land even at the peril of their lives, having the feeling that the only prospect to home are disappointments, discouragement, even a feeling of injustice coupled with revolt," he said.

Zimbabwe has already come up with economic empowerment programmes youths are entitled to claim a stake in national economy under the economic indegenisation laws.

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