11 March 2011

Africa: AU Commission Chairman Will Be Part of the Libya Panel - Sources

Muammar Gaddafi forces are making susbstantial gains against rebels in town of Ras Lanuf, reports Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley reports. ( Resource: Gaddafi Forces Mount Onslaught )

Addis Ababa — The African Union on Friday said it has set up a high-level panel to monitor the situation in Libya as an effort to end the worsening crises in the violence-engulfed north African Nation.

"The African Union (AU) has set up a panel of five heads of state to travel to Libya shortly to help ease the hostilities in the north African country" the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) said on Friday.

"The current situation requires urgent African action in order to facilitate immediate cessation of hostilities," Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner of the PSC told the press. Although the group has not yet been named Sudan Tribune has learnt that the Chairman of the AU Commission, Jean Ping will be one among the appointees.

The Panel is expected to meet opposition parties and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to explore opportunities for negotiation. It will also study the demands and type of reforms protesters are seeking.

The African union has spoken against a possible military intervention in Libya as Western nations remained divided over taking such measures including the no-fly zone.

The revolt against Gaddafi's 42-year rule follows successful uprisings against authoritarian Arab regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, which forced the countries' presidents from power. Protests have also taken in many Middle Eastern and North African countries including Sudan, Yemen and Bahrain.

Libya is a major funder of the African Union, and has a seat on the 15-member Peace and Security Council.

The United Nations and the European Union have slapped sanctions on Libya. The Arab League has suspended Libya's membership while Arab Gulf states said Gaddafi's government was no longer legitimate.

On Friday all 27 leaders of the EU's member states called for Gaddafi to step down. However, there was no agreement on a no-fly zone despite agreeing to "examine all necessary options" to protect civilians who have taken over many towns in the East of the country.

Germany is skeptical over the idea of a no-fly zone but Britain and France want to draw up plans to help the rebellion in Libya as well as a no-fly zone.

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