South Africa ruling party slams Libya strikes

29th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's ruling party slammed on Sunday the bombing of Libya, in a statement on the eve of a visit by President Jacob Zuma to Tripoli for talks with strongman Moamer Kadhafi.

Zuma is to meet Kadhafi on Monday, amid intensified NATO strikes on the embattled Libyan leader's regime, as part of an African push to end the conflict, with sources saying the talks would focus on an exit plan.

His ruling African National Congress said it supports African Union (AU) efforts to peacefully resolve the unrest "through negotiations by all parties involved in the conflict" in the uprising against Kadhafi's regime.

"We also join the continent and all peace loving people of the world in condemning the continuing aerial bombardments of Libya by western forces," it said in a statement after a two-day meeting of its executive council.

Two officials in Zuma's presidency, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP last week that Monday's meeting would focus on Kadhafi's "exit strategy".

Zuma's spokesman insisted this was misleading and that the talks would be part of AU efforts for Libya to adopt "the political reforms necessary for the elimination of the causes of the current crisis".

The South African leader -- who was in Nigeria on Sunday -- has also pledged to "do whatever is possible to assist while in Tripoli" to help bring home the remains of photographer Anton Hammerl.

The South African-Austrian lensman was shot dead by Kadhafi forces in April. There had been repeated assurances from the Libyan leader since then that he was alive.

Zuma visited Tripoli on April 10 as part of a high-ranking AU delegation to broker a truce, but a peace plan fell through.

South Africa voted for the UN resolution passed in March on enforcing a Libyan no-fly zone, intended to protect civilians from attacks by pro-Kadhafi forces, but has since criticised the bombing campaign and does not support a regime change.

It has also strongly condemned attacks on civilians by Kadhafi forces.

© 2011 AFP

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