S.Africa to host African Union meeting on Libya: official

25th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's president will host the four other heads of state on the African Union's Libya panel Sunday ahead of a key continental summit, the foreign ministry said.

President Jacob Zuma will meet with his counterparts from Mauritania, Congo Republic, Uganda and Mali to discuss the AU's bid to resolve the ongoing conflict in Libya, which has so far failed to produce a diplomatic breakthrough.

The meeting in Pretoria takes place ahead of the AU summit opening in Equatorial Guinea on June 30.

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, a long-time backer of the AU and forceful advocate for stronger continental integration, held the pan-African body's rotating chair in 2009.

Many AU leaders have publicly criticised NATO's assault on his regime, including Zuma, who earlier this month accused the alliance of abusing the United Nations resolution that justified its bombing.

He said that by pursuing regime change NATO had strayed far outside the resolution's civilian protection focus.

Zuma met Kadhafi in May but left Libya without a deal to end the conflict.

Zuma's government has also accused Tripoli of a "heinous violation of human rights against (Kadhafi's) own people" and South Africa, which currently holds a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, did vote in favour of a no-fly zone in Libyan airspace.

On June 6, Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who heads the AU panel, told AFP Kadhafi "can no longer lead Libya," and that "his departure has become necessary.

The Mauritanian leader however also criticised the value of NATO's assaults, suggesting they were doing the most harm to Libya's people.

African leaders have called for a ceasefire and diplomatic solution to the conflict, but the Libyan rebels have refused to discuss a deal that does not call for Kadhafi's immediate removal from power.

© 2011 AFP

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