Africa mediators to be shown due respect by Libya rebels

April 9, 2011 12:00 am

, BENGHAZI, Apr 9 – A visiting delegation of African leaders seeking to mediate a ceasefire in Libya will be shown "due respect" by rebels fighting Colonel Moamer Kadhafi\’s forces, an official in their stronghold in Benghazi said.

But the insurgents will not accept any deal involving Kadhafi or his family staying in power, media liaison official Mustafa Gheriani told reporters.

"We know exactly what we want. If they (the African leaders) think there could be a transitional period with Kadhafi or his sons, they need to go to (the besieged Libyan city of) Misrata where women and children are being violated and tell that to them," he said.

South African President Jacob Zuma and other leaders from a high-level African Union panel have been given NATO permission to meet Kadhafi in Tripoli, and the rebel chiefs in Benghazi on Sunday and Monday, according to the South African foreign ministry.

They would seek "the immediate implementation of a ceasefire from both sides and the opening of a political dialogue between the two parties", the ministry said.

The rebels in eastern Libya have been more receptive to diplomatic overtures from France, Britain, Italy and the United States — all NATO powers — than from attempts by the African Union (AU) or Turkey to forge a mediator role.

Gheriani said, however, the rebels "will listen" to what the AU team have to say.

He added that the rebels\’ condition for any ceasefire was a guarantee "to allow people to express their opinion" freely in all areas in Libya.

He asserted that such a principle was enshrined in the March 17 UN Security Council resolution that opened the way for international military force to be used on Libya.

That resolution, however, contains no such expression, speaking instead only of the protection of civilians, condemning human rights violations in Libya and the determination to provide humanitarian assistance.

The panel of Africans, which comprises the leaders of Congo, Mali, Mauritania, South Africa and Uganda, had been scheduled to visit Libya last month but had to cancel the trip after failing to obtain permission to enter the country as Western nations began implementing a no-fly zone.

AU chairman Teodoro Obiang Nguema on Tuesday condemned foreign military intervention in Ivory Coast and Libya, saying that Africa must be allowed to manage its own affairs.


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