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African Union leaders to visit Libya to demand ceasefire

A group of African leaders will visit Libya this weekend and meet with both sides in the country’s deepening conflict to demand an immediate ceasefire, the South African foreign ministry said Friday.

South African President Jacob Zuma and other leaders from a high-level African Union panel will first meet in Mauritania on Saturday, then travel to Libya to meet with leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli and rebel leaders in Benghazi to seek an end to the conflict.

“The committee has been granted permission by NATO to enter Libya and to meet in Tripoli with the Libyan leader. The AU delegation will also meet with the Interim Transitional National Council in Benghazi on 10 and 11 April 2011,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Key on the agenda of both meetings will be the immediate implementation of a ceasefire from both sides and the opening of a political dialogue between the two parties.”

The panel, which includes the leaders of Congo, Mali, Mauritania, South Africa and Uganda, had been scheduled to visit Libya last month but had to cancel the trip after failing to obtain permission to enter the country as Western nations began implementing a no-fly zone.

Their visit comes after AU chairman Teodoro Obiang Nguema on Tuesday condemned foreign military intervention in Ivory Coast and Libya, saying that Africa must be allowed to manage its own affairs.