The intention of the United Nations Security Council authorizing military action against Libya was “to protect the Libyan people” and “not to authorize a campaign for regime change or political assassination,” President Jacob Zuma of South Africa told fellow members of an African Union panel on Libya on Sunday.
Addressing the opening of a panel meeting in Tshwane, he said: “On the ground, there is a military stalemate which we cannot and must not be allowed to drag on and on, both because of its horrendous cost in civilian lives and the potential it has to destabilize the entire sub-region.”
The full text of his remarks:
I am taking the floor after the opening remarks by our Chair, His Excellency President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, to welcome all of you, Your Excellencies, and your respective delegations, to South Africa for this important meeting of our Committee.
We are charged with the responsibility to lead the efforts of the African Union in finding a peaceful, political settlement in Libya on the basis of the AU Roadmap on Libya. Since its establishment four months ago, this Committee has met several times and held interactions with the Libyan parties on a number of occasions, including with both Colonel Gaddafi and the rebel leadership.
In this respect, I wish to thank and commend His Excellency President Abdel Aziz for his leadership, energy and resilience in helping us find a solution to the Libyan crisis.. It is also thanks to the commitment and cooperation of each one of you Excellencies who serve on this Committee that he has been able to lead us in carrying out our mandate.
President Jacob Zuma and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The African Union Commission, represented here by Commissioner Ramante Lamamra, has done sterling work to facilitate the work of this Committee. We will continue to recognize and acknowledge this important contribution.
The African Union has indeed been seized with the situation in Libya since the beginning of the crisis in February 2011. The AU Peace and Security Council issued a CommuniquÃ© following its 261^st meeting on 23 February 2011 condemning the indiscriminate use of force and violence against peaceful protestors and dispatched a mission to assess the situation in Libya.
I was in Tripoli twice myself as part of the work of this Committee to meet with Colonel Gaddafi. A few days ago, on 15 June, our Ministers were in New York to interact with the UN Security Council on our efforts to resolve the Libyan conflict in accordance with the Roadmap.
In spite of all these efforts, Your Excellencies, the crisis in Libya continues to escalate. On the ground, there is a military stalemate which we cannot and must not be allowed to drag on and on, both because of its horrendous cost in civilian lives and the potential it has to destabilize the entire sub-region.
The continuing bombing by NATO and its allies is a concern that has been raised by our Committee and by the AU Assembly because the intention of Resolution 1973 was to protect the Libyan people and facilitate the humanitarian effort.
The intention was not to authorize a campaign for regime change or political assassination. Our Ministers made this point patently clear at their meeting with the UN Security Council.
Civilian lives have been lost due to these bombings, and civilian infrastructure has suffered untold damage. You will recall, Your Excellencies that in its communique, the extraordinary session of the AU Assembly of 25 May “demanded an immediate pause in the fighting and in the NATO-led air campaign, to provide respite to the civilian population, alleviate its suffering and make it possible to deliver the much-needed humanitarian assistance to all those in need of it”.
Therefore, Your Excellencies, we meet at an exceptionally grave time for Libya. The people of Libya are looking up to us to end this carnage!
The people of Africa want to see an immediate end to the conflict in Libya and the beginning of the process towards a democratic dispensation there.
The basic premise of our Roadmap is that the solution to the situation in Libya has to be political and lies in the hands of the Libyan people. Our Libyan brothers and sisters — those in authority and those among rebels — have to act boldly and show leadership.
The extraordinary sessions of the AU Assembly that I referred to earlier also “stressed that the ceasefire should lead to the establishment of a consensual and inclusive transitional period during which the necessary reforms to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people would be carried out, culminating in elections that would enable the Libyans to choose freely their leaders”.
Our Committee has the responsibility to ensure that this outcome is realized. We are aware that we can only achieve this outcome when we work better and in concert and close coordination with other stakeholders, notably the United Nations and the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, among others.
This Committee is an integral part of the efforts of the international community in Libya. Its role is recognized in paragraph two of Resolution 1973.
You are all welcomed to South Africa, Your Excellencies. We are happy that you accepted our offer to host this important meeting which is taking place on the eve of the AU Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
From here, we are all heading to Malabo where we will report on our efforts to our colleagues through our Chair, His Excellency President Abdel Aziz.
I wish our deliberations all the best, and look forward to an outcome that can take us a step closer towards the implementation of our Roadmap.
Your Excellencies, we are gathered here on a day that has immense political significance in the history of South Africa It was on this day, 26 June 1955 that our people adopted the Freedom Charter which inspired our struggle against apartheid and served as a blue print for the new democratic and non-racial South Africa. It was in the Freedom Charter that we said the new South Africa will strive for peace and friendship in the world. Our efforts of finding a durable peaceful political settlement in Libya should be understood within this historical and political context.
Thank you again for being here, Your Excellencies. As we say in South Africa: /Namukelekile/!! You are welcome!