By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
This year’s 17th African Union Summit attempted once again to broker a cease-fire in the nearly five-month-old imperialist war against Libya. The meeting of the 53-member organization was held in Malabo, capital of the former Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea, from June 30 to July 2.
The A.U.’s discussion of economic cooperation and the social conditions of youth was overshadowed by the work of its Ad-Hoc Committee on Libya. In its latest plan, the A.U. called for an immediate halt to the bombing attacks, which began March 19, and the beginning of serious negotiations aimed at establishing a political solution to the crisis inside Libya.
The Russian government also called for a NATO cease-fire in a meeting with the imperialist military alliance on July 3. South African President Jacob Zuma flew to Moscow in the aftermath of the A.U. Summit to promote the cease-fire efforts. Zuma noted that the framework advanced by the A.U. was the best mechanism for securing peace in Libya.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe told journalists after returning to Harare from the A.U. Summit that he was quite pleased with the meeting. “Yes, yes, we are happy. Southern African Development Community countries and countries in other parts of Africa were happy with the outcome on Libya.” Mugabe added, “NATO should stop its terrorist attack on Libya. NATO cannot continue attacking Libya because they are not the rulers of the world. The United Nations should stand against NATO.” (Zimbabwe Sunday Mail, July 3)
TNC, Washington reject A.U. proposals
The A.U. plan would have brought about the cessation of hostilities, a comprehensive cease-fire, the reconciliation of the conflicting parties inside Libya, and internationally supervised national elections.
The political measures put forward by the A.U. Summit would result in the lifting of the siege imposed on cities and the movement of all troops, militias and armed elements from all parties to barracks; the ending of all attacks and abuses against civilians, including those who were forced to leave the country; the release of political prisoners; and unrestricted and unhindered access to civilians in dire need of humanitarian relief.
The Western-backed counterrevolutionaries called the Transitional National Council summarily rejected the cease-fire plan, as did Washington. “Rebel spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga said that they outright dismissed the AU plan because it did not meet their basic demands, which calls for the ouster of Muammar Gadhafi, his sons and aides from his inner circle. Ghoga said the AU offer would have Gadhafi in power, something that was not acceptable to them.” (allheadlinenews.com, July 4)
Since March 11, the African Union has issued several communiqués calling for a cease-fire in Libya and the withdrawal of foreign involvement in the civil war. The imperialist states now bombing Libya and/or providing aid to the TNC have rejected all these calls.
A.U. rejects ICC warrants
The A.U. also refused to accept the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court warrants issued against Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence head Abdullah al-Senussi. From the Malabo Summit the continental organization said, “AU member-states shall not cooperate in the execution of the arrest warrants.”
The A.U. added that issuing the ICC warrants “seriously complicates the efforts aimed at finding a negotiated political settlement to the crisis in Libya, which will also address, in a mutually reinforcing way, issues related to impunity and reconciliation.”
The A.U. had similarly rejected the ICC’s targeting of African leaders in 2009 when attempts were made to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
While the A.U. was working for a peaceful settlement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton continued blatant, provocative rhetoric against the Libyan government. From Madrid on July 2, Clinton repeated the Obama administration’s demand that the Libyan leadership be overthrown.
Clinton said that Gadhafi “should step down from power. The rebels are gaining strength and momentum. We need to see this through.” (Associated Press, July 2)
Clinton added, “We will continue exerting the same military and political pressure.” She also praised the austerity measures imposed by the Spanish government on the working class, which is suffering from a 21 percent unemployment rate due to the world capitalist economic crisis.
The A.U. and Russia also condemned France’s openly supplying arms to the TNC. Speaking from Malabo, A.U. Commission Chair Jean Ping said that the French weapons “will be used to destabilize African states and to kidnap tourists for whom you pay ransom.” (sbpost.ie, July 3)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the French arms delivery represented a “crude violation” of a United Nations arms embargo that was called for in Security Council Resolution 1970. However, the U.S. State Department defended the French arms shipments to the rebels.
World opposition grows to war on Libya
Inside Libya itself, the defense forces have continued to hit rebel positions in the Nafusah Mountains and other areas of the country. A huge demonstration in Tripoli on July 1 brought out a million people in support of the government and in opposition to the imperialist war.
At the same time demonstrations and public meetings are continuing in the United States to oppose the war. In Harlem, a coalition of various Pan-Africanists, leftists and anti-war forces have called for a Millions March in defense of Libya and other African states under attack by Western countries.
The Final Call newspaper, a publication of the Nation of Islam, stated the following: “Disturbed by what they see as a White House that has ignored their concerns, anti-war activists called a press conference in Harlem to announce the ‘Millions March in Harlem’ protest and their demand for an end to the bombing of the North African nation of Libya and ending the illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe in Southern Africa.” (June 29)
The Freedom Party, the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party, the New Black Panther Party, the Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People, the International Association Against Torture, the International Action Center and the Answer Coalition endorsed the march, among others.
The demonstration, set for Aug. 13, calls for an immediate halt to U.S. involvement in the war against Libya. The Obama administration claims the Pentagon’s engagement there is “limited,” but a press release issued by Defense Web on July 4 states: “U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft are still flying hundreds of strike missions over Libya,” even though NATO allegedly took over such missions from the U.S. on March 31.