Qaddafi Not Prepared to Leave Libya, South African Leader Says
Muammar el-Qaddafi will not leave Libya despite growing international pressure and intensified strikes on his regime, the South African president said on Tuesday after talks in Tripoli.
President Jacob Zuma held “lengthy discussions” with the strongman on Monday but failed to close the gap between the Libyan leader and rebels on a plan proposed by the African Union.
“Colonel Qaddafi called for an end to the bombings to enable a Libyan dialogue. He emphasized that he was not prepared to leave his country, despite the difficulties,” Zuma’s office said in a statement.
“Colonel Qaddafi reiterated his agreement to a cease-fire and a dialogue of the Libyan people to find a political solution. He expressed his anger at the NATO bombings, which have claimed the lives of his son and grandchildren and continue to cause a destruction of property and disruption of life,” it said.
Zuma met Qaddafi at his home on Monday and also went on a tour to see “the destruction caused by the bombings and the deepening humanitarian crisis.”
South Africa wants an immediate cease-fire and for NATO to step back from the Libyan crisis, with Zuma calling on the bloc and other parties to “respect the AU’s role in searching for a solution in the matter.”
“Nothing other than a dialogue among all parties in Libya can bring about a lasting solution,” Zuma said.
The rebels have rejected the AU proposal, which calls for a cease-fire and “implementation of the political reforms necessary for the elimination of the causes of the current crisis.”
That rebels are demanding that Qaddafi leave power.
Qaddafi insisted after meeting Zuma that “all Libyans be given a chance to talk among themselves” to determine the country’s future, said the South African president, who is heading the African Union mediation process in Libya.
South Africa has consistently slammed the airstrikes against the strongman’s regime despite voting for the United Nations no-fly zone resolution that led to the NATO-led campaign.
But it has simultaneously condemned attacks on civilians as a “heinous violation of human rights against [Qaddafi’s] own people.”
“South Africa did not vote for regime change. By the time we voted on this resolution, more than 2,000 people were mowed down by their own government that was supposed to protect them,” South Africa’s foreign minister, Maite Nkoana–Mashabane, said on Tuesday.
South Africa was once tipped as a possible exile destination for Qaddafi , but Pretoria has said no offer was ever extended.
That possibility is now more remote after the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague sought an arrest warrant for him on charges of crimes against humanity, accusing him of having ordered his forces to gun down civilians in their homes, at funerals and outside mosques.
If the warrant is issued by the court’s judges, South Africa’s treaty obligations would require Qaddafi’s arrest if he were to enter the country.
But the Times newspaper reported on Tuesday that Libyan officials had an agreement with South African law firm Langa Attorneys to provide legal advice and services to Qaddafi and other top leaders.