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.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Mandy Rossouw
Guest Author

Related stories

An African free trade area is in our sights

Successes and failures from other initiative such as the European Union will be instructive, but much work must be done before the African Continental Trade Area becomes a reality

The SADC will regret its approach to Mozambique’s insurgence

The SADC has been lackadaisical in its response to the insurgency in Mozambique and in so doing, is putting several other southern African countries at risk

Nine years later, South Sudan is still a nation in waiting

July 9 marks nine years since South Sudan became independent. But the promise of that independence has yet to be realised

AU rights leader warns of human rights disaster

The African Union’s human rights boss has expressed grave concerns about the erosion of human rights during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

We need an outpouring of outrage about Africans killed by security forces

As Africa mourns George Floyd, we must look in the mirror and address police brutality on our own continent

Africa can build back better after Covid-19

The continent’s interconnectedness is what will be its catalyst for recovery

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday