SA pledges to help rebuild Libya

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pretoria - South Africa has pledged to make a contribution to the rebuilding of Libya as signs of an imminent end to Muammar Gaddafi's regime have begun to emerge.

As news broke of rebels taking control of Tripoli, South Africa has also distanced itself from reports that it had sent planes to Libya to allow the embattled Colonel Gaddafi to leave that country.

"The South African government would like to refute and dispel the rumours and claims that it has sent planes to Libya to fly Colonel Gaddafi and his family to an undisclosed location," International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters.

She did confirm, however, that a plane was on stand-by in Tunisia to rescue South Africans and embassy staff trapped in the conflict-riddled Libya.

Media reports have quoted a rebel spokesperson as saying the rebels now control over 95% of Tripoli, including the Libyan state radio building.

Gaddafi's two sons have also reportedly been arrested, with his eldest son Mohammed Al-Gaddafi apparently surrendering to rebel forces.

But Gaddafi, who had remained defiant, earlier had made two audio addresses over state television calling on Libyans to fight off the rebels. The unfolding situation in that country could bring an end to Gaddafi's rule of more than 40 years.

South Africa says it will support the will of the people of Libya.

"With the imminent fall of the government of Colonel Gaddafi, we wish to urge the interim authority in Tripoli to immediately institute an all-inclusive inter-Libyan political dialogue aimed at building a truly representative and people-centred dispensation," said a statement issued by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation on Monday.

The statement also made it clear that Pretoria had no knowledge of Gaddafi's whereabouts, with Nkoana-Mashabane saying officials in South Africa were also "sure that he will not be coming here."

Government said the political and socio-economic transformation of Libya "held real prospects of ushering in a new era based on the will of people in which Libya should take its rightful place in the community of nations."

"As Libya turns a new leaf in its history, the transitional government has the immediate responsibility of building national unity and reconciliation, restoring public order, reconstruction and reviving the economy."

President Jacob Zuma is part of the African Union special mission to end the conflict in Libya and has visited that country twice.

Nkoana-Mashabane reiterated South Africa's position that the way forward for the oil rich country would be the drafting of the new constitution, an event that would hopefully be followed by a referendum and the holding of democratic elections.

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