South Africa will not call for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down, the Cabinet decided at a meeting this week.
“We’ve always said that we cannot dictate what should happen in a sovereign state,” said Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, at a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday.
“It’s the people of Libya who should decide who should govern them and how they should be governed. Hence the decision that we will always say no to regime-change doctrine,” he said.
Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said, “As South Africa we say no to the killing of civilians, no to the regime-change doctrine and no to the foreign occupation of Libya or any other sovereign state.
“The South African government calls for restraint to avoid any further civilian casualties and categorically rejects any efforts of using the current crisis in Libya to effect regime change while recognising the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy and reform.”
Protests in Libya got under way in mid-February, and there have been calls for Gaddafi – in power for 42 years – to step down.
The South African delegation at the United Nations Security Council voted in favour of a no-fly zone over Libya on March 17, and were aware that the enforcement of the resolution would entail air strikes.
Manyi said on Thursday: “We commend the African Union peace and security committee for [the] establishment of a high level committee on Libya because currently it is the only viable solution [to] peaceful resolution of the crisis in a manner that responds to the legitimate needs of the Libyan people.”
The high level committee’s roadmap includes; the immediate cessation of hostilities; humanitarian assistance for the Libyan people and migrant workers; inclusive political dialogue; inclusive transition; and political reforms.
Meanwhile, on Côte d’Ivoire, Monyela said that the UN Security Council had encouraged the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union to persist in finding a political solution to the stand-off between Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara.
“The South African government is very serious about peace and security on the continent,” said Manyi.