News / Africa

AU Joins in Condemning Use of Force in Libya

Libyan residents gather near the courthouse in Benghazi, Libya, February 23, 2011
Libyan residents gather near the courthouse in Benghazi, Libya, February 23, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Africa's highest security body has added its voice to the international chorus condemning the use of lethal force against demonstrators in Libya.  The African Union Peace and Security Council chose its words carefully in dealing with an insurrection against one of the AU's most influential leaders.

"It was awful."  That was how one African diplomat described Wednesday's closed-door Peace and Security Council debate on Libya. The diplomat, who asked not to be identified, spoke of heated exchanges as Libya's ambassador defended his government's use of deadly force against demonstrators demanding an end to Moammar Gadhafi's 41-year rule.

The Libyan representative left without speaking to reporters. The 15-member council then debated three hours before releasing a brief communiqué.

A day earlier, a U.N. Security Council statement condemned Libyan authorities for using deadly force. It said those responsible should to be held to account.

The Arab League suspended Libya's membership. The organization's Secretary-General Amr Moussa was quoted as speaking of Arab anger about the use of mercenaries, live ammunition and heavy weapons against civilians in Libya.

The AU Council was more careful in affixing blame for the violence shown on television screens around the world. The Council chairman for February, Namibia's AU Ambassador Kakena Nangula, described the statement to reporters.

"[The] council strongly deplored the unfortunate tragic loss of life of the people of Libya, and urged all people, all those concerned to exercise restraint in order to avoid any further loss of life and or destruction of property," said Nangula.

The final version of the Council communiqué sent to VOA used a slightly stronger formulation, "strongly condemn[ing] the indiscriminate use of force."

Ambassador Nangula expressed concern that much of the news about the public uprising in Libya is coming from media reports. She said the Council would dispatch a fact-finding team to Libya, partly to look into discrepancies between official death tolls and estimates reported by news agencies.

"His excellency ambassador of Libya informed council of 270 deaths," added Nangula.  "That includes civilians, military and everybody else, and that is part of the reason why the information we are getting is not quite sufficient.  We are not quite satisfied.  We want to go there for and find out the information on the ground itself."

Several AU diplomats are urging strong action against the Libyan government's action. Zachary Muburi-Muita, head of the United Nations mission to the African Union, says 21st century African leaders must know they can no longer crush dissent with impunity.

"In decades past, I'm talking about impunity here, you could get away with whatever because you are minister, you are a general, you are the president of your country," noted Muburi-Muita.  "[In] the 21st century [it] is no longer permissible, acceptable, that you can do anything to your population just because you are at the leadership position."

AU diplomats and bureaucrats say the cautious Peace and Security Council statement reflects the African Union's discomfort at criticizing one of its wealthiest and most outspoken leaders. Moammar Gadhafi served as AU chairman in 2009, and was a forceful advocate of creating a United States of Africa, patterned after the European Union.  Despite Mr. Gadhafi's urging, the plan remains in limbo.

Libya is among five nations that contribute nearly two-thirds of the membership dues in the 53-state organization. He is also said to provide financial aid to poorer African countries in return for their support in AU affairs.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs