South African President Jacob Zuma has warned NATO not to use its military power to kill Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Mr. Zuma spoke in Pretoria Sunday as a high-level African Union panel discussed ways of ending the four-month conflict between Mr. Gadhafi and eastern-based rebels.
Mr. Zuma said the U.N. resolution that authorized NATO action in Libya was to protect the Libyan people, not to pursue “regime change or political assassination.”
NATO denied targeting Mr. Gadhafi after a May 1 airstrike that Libya’s government said killed four members of the Gadhafi family. Russia at that time expressed doubts about the NATO denial.
Mr. Zuma said the AU believes any solution to the conflict must be political and “lies in the hands of the Libyan people.”
He said the AU wants a cease-fire in Libya, to be followed by political reforms and elections that enable Libyans to freely choose their own leaders.
The African Union panel on Libya met to discuss peace and humanitarian aid efforts in the war-torn country. President Zuma hosted heads of state from Mauritania, Uganda and Mali at Sunday’s meeting.
Mr. Zuma’s office said the leaders would discuss efforts to secure a cease-fire and to bring about political reforms it says are needed to eliminate the causes of the Libyan conflict.
The AU has tried to broker peace between Mr. Gadhafi and the rebels, who control much of the country’s east. Mr. Zuma met with Mr. Gadhafi May 30 in Tripoli in a failed attempt to reach a deal. VOA