AU opposes foreign military intervention in Libya

Monday, March 21, 2011

Libya - The ad-hoc High-Level African Union Panel on Libya has said it opposes any foreign military intervention in Libya.

According to media reports on Saturday, Mauritanian President Ould Abdel Aziz said that the situation in the north African country demands urgent action so an African solution can be found to the very serious crisis.

Aziz said the solution to the Libya crisis must take into account "our desire that Libya's unity and territorial integrity be respected as well as the rejection of any kind of foreign military intervention".

The AU panel on the Libya crisis, which was formed a week ago, comprises Mauritanian President Ould Abdel Aziz, South African President Jacob Zuma, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso and Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure.

The AU said the ad hoc committee was set up to engage with all parties in Libya, facilitate in an inclusive dialogue among them, and engage AU parties for the speedy resolution of the crisis in Libya.

This comes as France, the United States and Britain said on Saturday that they had conducted air strikes on Libyan targets. 

French warplanes carried out four air strikes in Libya, destroying several armoured vehicles believed to belong to government troops, while the United States launched Tomahawk missile attacks against the Libyan air defense from warships deployed in the Mediterranean on Saturday. 

The US Navy has three submarines outfitted with Tomahawk missiles in the Mediterranean, as well as two guided-missile destroyers, and two amphibious warships, and a command-and-control ship, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The military also has five surveillance planes in the area.

US Pentagon officials said earlier they intended to limit the military's involvement in Libya mainly to help and protect foreign aircraft flying into Libyan air space.

The Norwegian Air Force has also been ordered to have six F16 jet fighters and over 100 pilots and other personnel ready for military operations in Libya. The warplanes are expected be based in Sicily, Italy.

The air strikes came after the UN Security Council on Thursday adopted a resolution to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya and called for "all necessary measures," excluding troops on the ground, to protect civilians under threat of attack in the North African country.

Major decision-makers from the United Nations, the United States, Germany, Britain and other western countries, as well as several leaders from Arab world met at a summit in Paris on Saturday.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the leaders agreed that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had defied the ceasefire call in spite of warnings of military intervention, and said they were determined to "act coordinately and resolutely" to enforce the UN resolution.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said after the summit that the time had come for action in Libya.

"What is absolutely clear ... is that Colonel Gaddafi has broken his word, has broken the ceasefire and continues to slaughter his own civilians. This has to stop. We have to make it stop. We have to make him face the consequences. So I think it is vitally important that action takes place, that action takes place urgently," Cameron said.

Gaddafi has meanwhile warned against "interference" in Libyan issues in letters sent to western leaders and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

At a news conference in the capital, Tripoli, a government spokesperson read letters from the Libyan leader to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and the UN Secretary General that "Libya is not yours. Libya is for the Libyans. The Security Council resolution is invalid."

He further said that "this is injustice... you will regret it if you take a step towards interfering in our internal affairs."

In his letter to Obama, Gaddafi said, "If you had found them taking over American cities with armed force, tell me what you would do. I have all the Libyan people supporting me and they are prepared to die for me," he said.

He also said that he was "facing al-Qaeda here".