Warrant a stumbling block in Libya solution, officials say

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”.

We bring you a selection of powerful images from Libya and a useful summary of the situation to date. Violent protests and bloody clashes in Libya are entering their fourth week, while president Muammar Gaddafi shows no sign of relinquishing power.

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.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Mandy Rossouw
Guest Author

Tension over who’s boss of courts

In a letter, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng questions whether Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has acted constitutionally

SABC sued over ‘bad’ clip of Ramaphosa

A senior employee at the public broadcaster wants compensation for claims of ‘sabotage’

Soundtrack to a pandemic: Africa’s best coronavirus songs

Drawing on lessons from Ebola, African artists are using music to convey public health messaging. And they are doing it in style

In East Africa, the locusts are coming back for more

In February the devastating locust swarms were the biggest seen in East Africa for 70 years. Now they’re even bigger

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories