Friday, September 23, 2011

African Union Wants Inclusive Government in Libya

AU wants inclusive govt in Libya

Friday, 23 September 2011 02:00
Zimbabwe Herald

From Morris Mkwate and Obi Egbuna in New York

PRESIDENT Mugabe met African Union Commission chairman, Dr Jean Ping, here on Wednesday, with the continental body insisting it will only accord Libya's National Transitional Council a seat after it sets up an inclusive government.

This came after Sadc blocked efforts to influence the AU Peace and Security Council to go against the position.

Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who attended the closed-door meeting said Dr Ping clarified Africa's stance on Libya.

He said the AU Commission chairman also presented his bid for re-election early next year.

Sadc is backing South African Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma in the poll.

"Basically, Dr Ping was presenting his candidature for his second term as AU Commission chair," said Cde Mumbengegwi. "The election will be held in January next year.

"The second issue was to brief the President on developments in Libya, clarifying the African Union's position. The position is that the NTC is required to set up an inclusive government before they can occupy an AU seat."

Soon after the briefing, AU Peace and Security Council members - represented by their respective foreign ministers - met to further discuss the Libyan issue.

Cde Mumbengegwi said some members of the 15-state council, led by Nigeria, Rwanda and Djibouti, pushed for the recognition of the NTC.

But Sadc representatives Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia blocked the move arguing the AU position should stand.

"Last night (Wednesday) the AU PSC held a meeting to discuss Libya. There were efforts at the meeting to get the PSC to recognise the NTC, but Sadc representatives vigorously moved against that," said Cde Mumbengegwi.

"Some countries were in favour of the NTC getting a seat, saying the General Assembly had voted to give them a seat, so the AU must follow suit. We, in turn, said there should be an inclusive government to ensure peace and stability in Libya and that the AU does not want chaos. Once we grant them recognition now, the African Union will not have leverage to get them to form an inclusive government."

Cde Mumbengegwi said AU chairman, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo's statement on Libya in his address to the UN General Assembly was read ambiguously.

"Some are saying the AU recognises the NTC, but we read it to mean the AU recognises the NTC as they set up an inclusive government (that includes all stakeholders)," he said.

"As chairman, he would not abandon the AU position."

Unrest broke out in Libya last February after rebels, assisted by NATO, led a string of violent protests to force the North African country's leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, out of power.

The armed rebels exchanged fire with security forces and seized parts of the country, culminating in a full-fledged war that has claimed thousands of lives.

As the fighting escalated, the AU PSC resolved to back Col Gaddafi's clampdown on the insurgents.

However, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973 that provided for a no-fly zone over Libya.

Gabon, Nigeria and South Africa voted with the West, while China, Russia and Germany abstained.

Meanwhile, Dr Ping pledged the AU's unconditional support for Sadc efforts to have US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe lifted.

He said the AU would follow the lead of Sadc, which is the main guarantor to the country's Global Political Agreement.

His spokesperson, Mr Noureddine Mezni, said the continental body opposed sanctions imposed on any African country by foreigners.
He said the AU could only impose its own sanctions in cases of coups.

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