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Kadhafi won’t stand in way of Libya deal: S.Africa minister

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi has sent envoys to South African President Jacob Zuma to say that he will stay out of talks on a peace deal and on his own future, the foreign minister said Wednesday.

“He said he does not want to stand in the way of a settlement, and so he will not be part of negotiations about the future of Libya or his own future,” foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told a news conference.

Zuma is part of an African Union team trying to broker a peace deal in Libya, and met Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen Monday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the AU team plans to meet within days at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa to hear responses from both Kadhafi’s government and rebels to the latest peace plan put forward at an African summit last week.

“We hope the African Union will be given the necessary political space to carry out its mandate to pursue its roadmap,” she said.

“The AU is central to any solution in Libya and should therefore not be side-lined or undermined in any way.”

The AU plan calls for a ceasefire and negotiations on democratic reforms, with provision for a multinational peacekeeping force organised by the United Nations.

So far the AU has been unable to convince the rebels to accept the proposal, or to convince Kadhafi to leave power as the rebellion demands.

“We don’t chase presidents out of their countries,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

“We want a continent with ex-presidents living happily and fruitfully in their own countries.”

“We do not have a go-away agenda in the AU,” she said.

The AU panel on Libya also includes the leaders of Mauritania, Mali, Uganda and Congo-Brazzaville.

At an African Union summit last week in Equatorial Guinea, the leaders announced that Kadhafi would stay out of negotiations, but the 53-nation bloc failed to take a common position on his future.

The leaders called for an amnesty for crimes committed by Kadhafi and forces loyal to him during the conflict and the unfreezing of Libyan assets abroad.

The AU also decided that its members would not execute an International Criminal Court arrest warrant issued for the Libyan leader.

Kadhafi was one of the main contributors to AU running costs but also, thanks to his petrodollars, unilaterally funded several projects across the continent for years.

African leaders have publicly criticised NATO’s assault on Kadhafi’s regime, including Zuma who last month accused the alliance of abusing the United Nations resolution that authorised its bombing campaign.

Zuma has maintained that NATO’s actions undermined AU efforts in finding a lasting solution in the north African country.