News / Africa

    AU Rejects Charge of Failing to End Libya Conflict

    South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L) talks with Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, during an emergency summit of the AU Peace and Security Council in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, August 26, 2011
    South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L) talks with Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, during an emergency summit of the AU Peace and Security Council in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, August 26, 2011

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    • Clottey interview with El-Ghassim Wane, spokesman for the African Union (AU)

    Peter Clottey

    The African Union (AU) is rejecting criticism that it has failed to help bring an end to Libya’s civil war.  Critics say behind the alleged failure are divisions among heads of states and their personal relationships with deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi

    AU spokesman El-Ghassim Wane said the continental body has been actively involved in finding a solution to the conflict.

    Last week, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council met to find solutions.

    “The key element of the decision that was taken,” said Wane, “is to encourage the Libyan stakeholders to establish a broad-based and inclusive government which, once established, will occupy the seat of Libya at the African Union.  Our focus is to promote stability [and] democracy, and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to help them achieve their goals.”

    Failure Charged

    Critics say the continental body is sidelined and has remained largely infective in finding solutions to the conflict between Gadhafi loyalists and the rebels.

    They contend the AU only called for dialogue at the beginning of the crisis despite the use of violence by Gadhafi loyalists, which critics say undermined the regime’s legitimacy.

    Critics also said the continental body remained quiet while a UN resolution allowed NATO to use any means necessary to protect civilians, including a no-fly zone against Gadhafi’s air force.

    Wane rejected the accusations as unfortunate.

    “From the onset of the crisis, we condemned the violence directed at the civilian population. We called for respect for human rights and to ensure that the aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy… and human rights are upheld,” said Wane. “It was on that basis that the AU established a committee to follow up on the roadmap that was agreed upon.”

    He also said the AU will continue to promote reconciliation in Libya and to help the country build institutions that will serve as a foundation for democracy and the rule of law.

    Recognizing Rebels

    The African Union has yet to officially recognize the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the legitimate Libyan government, despite several member states doing so.

    The AU has called for an inclusive transitional government and for a constitutional and legislative framework for the democratic transformation that will lead to elections in Libya.

    Wane said the AU is committed to ensuring peace.

    “We made very sustained efforts, and we made them based on some fundamental principles,” said Wane.  “The first one being of course is the need to ensure that the legitimate aspirations of the people are fulfilled…[and] in a peaceful manner.”

    He also acknowledged that events beyond the AU’s control have thwarted the group’s objectives.

    “We also made very sustained efforts to find a political solution, because we believe [that] is the best way of ensuring the long term stability of Libya.”

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