Libya: African leaders set for key visit

Posted April 9, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Events ~ 3,240 views


BBC | A team of African leaders, headed by South African President Jacob Zuma, is heading for Libya this weekend on a key diplomatic mission. The five heads will visit both Tripoli and the rebel-held city of Benghazi to push for a truce between the forces of Col Muammar Gaddafi and the opposition.

The EU is pressing for a humanitarian mission to be allowed into the city of Misrata, which has seen heavy fighting.

Clashes are continuing between the two sides near Ajdabiya in the east.

Misrata clashes
Mr Zuma will head an African Union team that will also include leaders from DR Congo, Mali, Mauritania and Uganda.

Their first stop will be in Mauritiania on Saturday before going on to Tripoli on Sunday.

The South African foreign ministry said: “The committee has been granted permission by Nato to enter Libya and to meet in Tripoli with the Libyan leader.

“The AU delegation will also meet with the Interim Transitional National Council in Benghazi on 10 and 11 April.”

It added: “Key on the agenda of both meetings will be the immediate implementation of a ceasefire from both sides and the opening of a political dialogue between the two parties.”

The BBC correspondent in Benghazi, Jon Leyne, says Col Gaddafi feels he has some support among African leaders. However, the opposition movement says it will not negotiate with the Libyan government.

One key concern is the city of Misrata, 215km (130 miles) east of Tripoli, where there have been increasing civilian casualties.

Rebel spokesmen say Col Gaddafi’s forces are continuing to fire indiscriminately on buildings.

Our correspondent says a team of journalists was taken there on Friday to see a hospital on the edge of town and came under fire, with one of the Libyan government soldiers escorting them injured by a sniper.

Nato ‘regrets’
The European Union is ready to launch a humanitarian mission to evacuate the wounded from Misrata and deliver relief supplies, possibly with military backing.

The EU could act within days, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton wrote in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The mission – which would have a purely humanitarian mandate – would only go ahead with UN backing, EU officials said.

A UN human rights team investigating suspected crimes against humanity is also scheduled to visit Libya on Sunday, the team’s leader Cherif Bassiouni said on Friday.

In the east, government forces again appear to be moving towards Ajdabiya but there has been little change in the frontline for days.

Nato has faced increasing criticism over its air strike strategy.

On Friday it said it strongly regretted the loss of life after a “friendly fire” attack on rebel tanks in eastern Libya that left at least four dead.

Rebel forces had reacted with anger to the attack on their tanks near Ajdabiya.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said: “I strongly regret the loss of life. I also have to say that the situation on the ground is very fluid. We have seen in the past that tanks have been used by the Gaddafi regime to attack civilians.”

It was the third such incident since Nato took over air operations from a US, French and British coalition a week ago.

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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