African leaders back Gaddafi, ask Nato to end bombings

Saturday May 28 2011

Kutesa & Cameron

Kutesa & Cameron  

By Tabu Butagira

African Presidents have asked allied forces to halt intensified bombings in Tripoli, called for an immediate ceasefire between government and rebel forces and decided Col. Muammar Gaddafi stays in power as negotiations get underway.

At the conclusion of an extra-ordinary summit in Addis Ababa on Thursday, the political executives, according to outgoing Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, condemned NATO members for exceeding the mandate given by UN Security Council resolution 1973.

“The resolution authorised protection of civilians but due to indiscriminate bombing, civilians are now dying,” Mr Kutesa said. “Africa takes the position that the only way we can go forward [in Libya] is to have a ceasefire, commence dialogue and an inclusive transitional mechanism emphasising necessary reforms to meet aspirations of the Libyan people.”

Mr Kutesa, who accompanied President Museveni to the AU meeting, said they tasked Africa’s representatives on the UN Security Council - Gabon, South Africa and Nigeria – to push for an audit of violations of resolution 1973. Mr Museveni returned from the summit on Thursday.

The summit did not say what would happen if such inquiry succeeded – and it is uncertain if their disparate position would influence the West’s stand.
The unanimous AU resolutions came a day after President Obama and his host, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, announced in London on Wednesday that Col. Gaddafi must leave power before any meaningful dialogue.

Yesterday, Mr Kutesa said African leaders consider that talks that exempt the Libyan leader would not be “substantive” since Col. Gaddafi is party to the fighting.
“In our view, the talks should be without pre-conditions. Otherwise there will not be progress,” he said by telephone. “Also the attempt to try to assassinate the leader of a sovereign country violates international law.”

In the past three weeks, NATO bombs have fallen on Col. Gaddafi’s compound and a missile that slammed into a house he was in killed one of his sons and two grandchildren, raising suspicion the West is targeting to kill him.

Amid allegations government forces were heading to annihilate residents of Benghazi, a stranglehold of the Transitional National Council, France and Britain under initial US command invoked UN Security Council resolution 1973 and in March imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and began bombing.

The allied forces report dismantling the capability of much of Col. Gaddafi’s forces although experts warn of a stalemate in Libya unless Western powers deploy ground troops.
Yesterday, the leaders, aiming to keep foreign militaries out of African conflicts, agreed to fast-track the formation of the delayed AU Standby Brigade as a home-grown solution and they highlighted the need for early warning systems.

UK’s The Independent reported yesterday that Libya’s Prime Minister, Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, has, in a letter incorporating recommendations of the five-member AU High-Level Ad hoc Committee, asked foreign governments to support its proposals for an immediate ceasefire to be monitored by both UN and AU; unconditional talks with the opposition; amnesty for both sides in the conflict and drafting of a new Constitution.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon attended the Addis deliberations that tackled the fragile security situation in Somalia, Ivory Coast and Sudan.