SA deeply concerned about Libya

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pretoria - The South African government has again raised deep concern about the deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in warring Libya.

Citing the UN High Commission for Refugees, cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Thursday that about 2000 people were crossing the Libyan border to neighbouring nations while thousands of migrant workers remain trapped inside conflict zones.

Manyi, addressing journalists following an ordinary cabinet meeting, said government was also concerned about the increased proliferation of arms in that region. Some reports have said that the US was supplying arms to those fighting against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

"South Africa supports the people of Libya in their quest for peace, democratic reforms, justice, human rights culture, socio-economic development that responds to their needs.

"We commend the African Union and Security Committee (AU PSC) for the establishment of a High Level Committee on Libya because currently it is the only viable peaceful resolution of the crisis in a manner that responds to the legitimate needs of the Libyan people.

"We reiterate the call by the AU for immediate ceasefire, cooperation by Libyan Authorities to facilitate humanitarian assistance, protection of foreign nationals including African migrant workers, and adoption of political reforms to address the root cause of the conflict," he said.

Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said that South Africa would not support any action by foreign countries that would further fuel the current situation.

Asked about South Africa's position on reports that the US was supplying arms to those fighting Gaddafi forces, he said that they would not speak on behalf of that government.

"We don't think it's an issue of outsiders deciding on what should happen in Libya," he said, indicating the people of that country should chart the way forward on how they should be governed.

He reiterated the government's position that went against the doctrine of regime change and military occupation in Libya.

Monyela said that the no-fly-zone resolution which South Africa supported at the UN Security Council was meant to protect civilians.

However, he said that it was difficult to weigh how many people had died before and after the implementation of that resolution.

He said that South Africa`s position on Libya was based on the information at the government`s disposal and not merely from other sources such as the media.

Still on foreign affairs, Monyela said that they were concerned about the situation in the Ivory Coast as it was "rapidly sliding into a civil war."

At home and among several other matters, Manyi said that the cabinet had received a report on the challenges faced by the Eastern Cape Department of Education and was studying its findings.

He also said that cabinet had declared April as Freedom month, which would culminate on Freedom Day, 27 April.