NATO raids are undermining African mediation for peace in Libya, South African President Jacob Zuma said in a broadcast Monday, as he visited Tripoli for talks with Moamer Kadhafi.
The alliance’s air strikes on the strongman’s regime were thwarting African attempts to broker a peace deal, Zuma said before his talks with Kadhafi in an interview broadcast on South African television news.
“Even going there had to be delayed because of bombing,” said Zuma, in an apparent reference to an initial African Union (AU) mission to Libya.
“We only went there long after the time that we had taken a decision, and even going there, you have to ask permission from the NATO to get to Libya.
“I think that in a sense undermines the integrity of the African Union.”
Zuma went to Tripoli on Monday to meet Kadhafi for talks on ending the conflict, after the high-level AU peace-seeking mission in April fell through.
“We cannot allow this conflict to take too long,” he told the SABC public broadcaster.
“It complicates as you go forward but also it might end up in an unfortunate situation for Libya and perhaps for Kadhafi himself,” he said.
The South African presidency said Zuma is seeking an immediate ceasefire, to boost humanitarian aid and to bring about reforms needed to eliminate the cause of the conflict which erupted amid anti-regime protests mid-February.
But it rejected as “misleading” reports the talks would focus on an exit strategy for Kadhafi, calling the visit part of AU efforts to end the conflict.
Libyan state television said Zuma would discuss implementing the AU “roadmap” for peace, as it reported NATO-led raids on the Nafusa mountains in the far west and the town of Bani Walid, near Misrata.