Mbeki slams West’s gunboat diplomacy against Gaddafi

Former president Thabo Mbeki has joined more than 140 other prominent Africans in condemning the gunboat diplomacy aimed at overthrowing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

In an open letter, Mbeki and other signatories have sharply criticised “the misuse of the UN Security Council to engage in militarised diplomacy to effect regime change in Libya”.

Some of the “Concerned Africans” who have signed the letter are to brief the press in Joburg today. The full text of the letter and list of signatories will be released at the briefing.

The signatories include former cabinet ministers Essop Pahad and Ronnie Kasrils, former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane, author and poet Wally Serote, and foreign policy analysts Chris Landsberg and Siphamandla Zondi, and Mahmood Mamdani, of Makerere University in Uganda and the University of Columbia, New York.

Other issues to be addressed in their open letter include:

- The UN Security Council’s rejection of political solutions to conflict.

- The need to allow the Libyans to decide their own fate and rulers without outside interference.

- The marginalisation of the African Union.

- The threat of the recolonisation of Africa, especially its resource-rich countries.

Meanwhile, it appeared that South Africa and the African Union had been sidelined from diplomatic efforts in the aftermath of the collapse of Gaddafi’s government. The International Contact Group, which has been conducting military operations in support of the Transitional National Council (TNC) rebels fighting Gaddafi, is planning to meet in Istanbul tomorrow to discuss how to manage a post-Gaddafi Libya.

But the group has no plans to include the AU, according to International Contact Group official sources.

African leaders are to meet at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa to discuss Libya tomorrow and on Friday. But officials indicated that the main issue there would be whether or not to recognise the TNC government, rather than any role the AU could still play in stabilising Libya after the civil war which now seems all but over.

On Monday International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane suggested that South Africa would withhold recognition of the TNC until an inclusive transitional government was in place.

However Nigeria threw down a challenge to Africa yesterday by immediately recognising the TNC.

Zuma yesterday repeated his criticism of Nato for “misinterpreting” UN Security Council Resolution 1973 – which South Africa supported – to try to oust Gaddafi rather than just protect civilians.

He also said that Nato had caused unnecessary bloodshed by continuing to drop bombs on Libya after the AU had asked it to stop to allow the AU Roadmap to take effect. He insisted that the road map, which he failed to persuade either side to adopt, “still has room in the situation right now”.

“It’s not too little, too late” he told journalists after meeting Ghana’s John Atta Mills in Cape Town.

[Source: By Peter Fabricius, Foreign Editor, The Mercury, SA, 24Aug11]

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