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S.Africa 'not happy' on Libya, boycotts Paris meet: Zuma

September 01, 2011

President Jacob Zuma. - File Photo

OSLO: South Africa disagrees with Nato's military intervention in Libya, which is why it will take no part in Thursday's Paris conference dedicated to rebuilding the war-torn country, visiting President Jacob Zuma said.

“We are not happy” with the way UN resolution 1973 on a no-fly zone was implemented to allow air strikes on Libya, Zuma told a news conference during a state visit to Norway.

“Instead of the UN leading the process, instead of Nato leading the process, we had individual countries, (and) too many people taking the process away. That tended to sideline all the important people,” he said.

Making his comments Thursday just hours before the opening of the Paris conference organised by France and Britain, who were the driving forces behind the air strikes, Zuma also reiterated that the Libyan reconstruction should be headed by the African Union (AU) and the UN.

“That process must not be taken away from the UN. That is a UN process and the UN must lead it. And it is the UN that must be supported as well as the AU,” of which Libya is a member, he said.

In March, South Africa, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, voted for the UN resolution authorising the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya.

But it has since lashed out at the Nato-led bombing, with a range of top officials saying the no-fly zone was hijacked to overthrow long-time leader Moamer Qadhafi.

“If any measure of military would be used, it was to help to protect people, as we understood it, (who) could have been killed,” he said.

“But instead of protecting, it became the bombing, (as) cover for the other group (the rebels) to advance,” he said.

Zuma has repeatedly criticised Nato for using the UN resolution to help the rebels against Moamer Qadhafi, and cautioned last week that the Nato-led use of force had undermined Africa's peace efforts.

Within the African Union framework, South Africa, which so far has refused to recognise the National Transitional Council (NTC), had attempted in vain to mediate peace between Qadhafi's ousted government and the rebels.

Norway, meanwhile, took part in the air strikes on Libya and will be represented at the Paris meeting by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.