SA on Libya: Show Some Leadership

June 3, 2011

The Mail and Guardian reports today that South African President Zuma’s report to the African Union following his visit to Libya earlier this week will maintain that the arrest warrant sought against Gaddafi is spoiling chances of achieving resolution in Libya. If true, it’s yet another illustration of how ham-fisted SA is on the international stage — not even seeking to respect the integrity of its own actions. SA was one of the chief initiators of the UNSC resolution making referral of the Libyan situation to the ICC — a resolution passed only two months ago. Of course, Ocampo — the ICC’s prosecutor — hasn’t helped matters by charging towards the television cameras and announcing that he would be seeking indictments for Gaddafi, his son and his intelligence minister. But then Ocampo has never been one to appreciate the sensitivities of timing, the need for delicate sequencing, certainly not of political and legal considerations. Still, who did SA think was going to be indicted once they made the referral of Libya to the ICC. Mad as Gaddafi might be, he had to know that referral meant he was in the sights of the ICC. Now SA wants to tell the AU — which will be nothing but receptive given its pronounced anatagonism towards the ICC — that the ICC arrests warrants are the real reason no resolution can be brought about in Libya (and ostensibly the reason there’ll be no peace in Kenya, no peace in Darfur).

But even if SA wants to play to the AU gallery, just how idiotic is it prepared to look in the forums of the UN? What will it say? We didn’t really appreciate the consequences of sponsoring and voting for the resolution making referral of Libya to the ICC? The West made us do it? No question, the Libyan situation is difficult. And honestly, the ICC referral doesn’t make the situation easier given that Gaddafi’s exit has to be negotiated and the ICC referral limits the international community’s options. So unless there’s a protracted military intervention ultimately resulting in Gaddafi’s end (which really isn’t authorised by the UNSC’s resolutions) and which also might result in all of Libya being brought to its knees, someone had better explain to the Libyan rebels fast that their position that there will be no negotiations until Gaddfi goes is unsupportable and that they’re the only people able to negotiate with him and offer the inducements necessary to secure his exit.

MANDY ROSSOUW  http://mg.co.za/author/contact/mandy-rossouw>  – Jun 03 2011 00:00

President Jacob Zuma’s report to the African Union (AU) about his visit to Libya will highlight the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the spoiler in finding a solution to the conflict in Libya, say senior government officials involved in the process.

Zuma, in his capacity as a member of the AU high-level panel on Libya, visited Muammar Gaddafi this week in the hope of ending the months-long war. He returned with a commitment from Gaddafi to cease fighting, but the Libyan leader insists on remaining in his home country.

A key demand of the Libyan rebels is that Gaddafi step down and leave the country. A senior government official involved in the matter told the Mail & Guardian that “the main sticking point in taking the next step in this issue is the ICC process”.

A warrant of arrest issued by the ICC means that every country that is a signatory to the Rome Statute, including South Africa has to arrest Gaddafi if he sets foot on their soil.

“This presents a dilemma for the AU mission. It is not impossible for Gaddafi to be convinced to go elsewhere, but there is no way he will agree with this thing hanging over his head,” the official said. “There are not many options left. Unless there is a way to have the ICC process suspended, there is little that can be done.” The recent trial in the Hague of former Liberian president Charles Taylor looms large when the issue of departure is discussed, the official said.

The security assessment of Libya conducted by the South African government shows that the rebels are closing in on Gaddafi and the Libyan leader is aware of this. Said the official: “It has been pointed out to him that [an imminent attack on his compound] is what he is facing. He is willing to agree to a cease-fire, but doesn’t want to leave while the ICC is ready to take him.”

The South African government is blaming the call for Gaddafi to leave on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato)’s “need to justify its actions”.

“It is clear that this thing is going one way. The reality is that Nato won’t pull out until it can account for why it went in there in the first place. It overstepped the mark and now it needs something to justify it and only getting Gaddafi will do that,” the source said.

Meanwhile, Zuma said this week Gaddafi had committed himself to finding the body of slain photographer Anton Hammerl. Zuma handed over a dossier to Gaddafi with information about the possible whereabouts of Hammerl’s body as well as DNA samples to help identify the remains.

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