A South African civil society group criticised the United States on Wednesday for trying to be the “policeman of the world” and interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
“America must stop playing big brother and policeman of the world,” South Africans for Peace in Africa initiative spokesperson David Maimela said.
“What’s wrong with the African Union agenda?”
He was speaking outside the United States embassy in Pretoria, where about 50 protesters gathered to demand the withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) forces from Libya.
The US was undermining other countries with its “capitalist agenda”.
“No nation has a right to make a decision for another nation. We won’t allow imperialism to reign in the world,” he said.
The group handed over a memorandum demanding Nato “stop murdering innocent women and children” in Libya.
US embassy spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau received the document and said she would send it to Washington. She took the group’s demands “very seriously”.
Libya has descended into civil war after revolutions ousted the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt in January and February. Gaddafi has resisted calls to end his 41-year-long grip on power and vowed to defeat his “enemies”.
Nato forces regularly target locations believed to be used by forces loyal to Gaddafi.
Gaddafi has described the bombing campaign as an act of colonial aggression aimed at stealing Libya’s oil.
“Nato has no legitimate right to be in Libya. It must withdraw and do so unconditionally,” said Maimela.
He rejected the West’s “re-colonisation” of Africa.
In the memorandum, the initiative, which campaigns for peaceful resolution of conflicts on the continent, expressed concern about the destruction of clinics, hospitals, schools, houses and other facilities in Libya.
Marchers sang and chanted as they walked to the embassy accompanied by police. They included students and members of the Pan Africanist Congress wearing white T-shirts bearing the slogan: “Nato stop bombing Libya now”.
“Obama how many Libyans did you kill today?” they asked on a placard, referring to the US president.
Other placards were addressed to Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and France President Nicholas Sarkozy, who had called on Gaddafi to step down.
France and Britain get it too
The British government, together with the US and French governments, had used their power as three of the only five veto-wielding members of the United Nations security council to impose a resolution authorising “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya. It includes sanctions and an arms embargo and enforces a travel ban and asset freeze on Gaddafi, his inner circle and members of his family.
The initiative wants an immediate withdrawal of this resolution, which the South African government supported when it was announced.
The group further criticised the “pretentious rhetoric” of Britain, the US and France, who said they were acting in the interest of democracy, free speech and the right to protest.
The march also had support from the Young Communist League, the South African Council of Churches and the Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa.
Protesters dispersed peacefully after marching to the United Kingdom high commission and the French embassy to deliver the same memorandum. — Sapa