African Union backs Russia mediation in Libya

1st June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The head of the African Union Commission voiced support Wednesday for Russian mediation of the Libyan crisis but insisted that Africa should remain a key player in finding a resolution.

"Anyone who can contribute to a resolution of the situation in Libya is welcome," said AU Commission chairman Jean Ping.

"If the Russians can help find a solution, they are welcome. We can't ask for anything better," Ping told a news conference after talks with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels.

Prodded by G8 partners at a summit in France last week, Russia, a critic of the NATO air war in Libya, agreed to act as a mediator in the conflict and openly called for Moamer Kadhafi to step down.

But Ping stressed that the AU cannot be marginalised in efforts to bring a political solution to the conflict, which began in mid-February when Kadhafi countered an uprising against his 42-year dictatorship.

"Libya is in Africa and we cannot find a solution by sidelining Africa," Ping said.

"There is a military situation and we have now moved to finding a political solution, and here we have a fundamental contribution to bring."

A ceasefire plan put forward by the AU in March, which included a transition period to organise elections, was accepted by Kadhafi himself but rejected by the Libyan rebels, who insisted on his departure first.

The AU called last week for an end to NATO airstrikes on Libya to pave the way for a political solution to the conflict.

© 2011 AFP

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