10 November 2011

South Africa: We are Ready to Assist Libya - President Zuma

Pretoria — South Africa stands ready to assist Libya in any way possible so that the country can return to normalcy, says President Jacob Zuma.

Responding to questions in Parliament on Thursday, Zuma said Pretoria could offer its "unique" past experience of rebuilding a nation.

Since 1994, the international community has looked to South Africa to play a leading role in championing values of human rights, democracy and reconciliation.

"Our experience in reconciliation, as well as the integration of the armed forces following the transition to its democratic dispensation could be relevant in the current post-conflict phase in Libya," said Zuma.

Libya is trying to find its feet after rebel forces revolted and the death of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Gaddafi, who had ruled Libya for over four decades, died of wounds in October after being shot in gun battles in his hometown of Sirte after nearly two months on the run. He was found in a storm water drain.

Zuma said the approach to national reconciliation must ensure the protection of civilians in an effective manner without necessarily a military or police response.

"Greater effort will need to be exerted to support the establishment of the requisite democratic institutions, legal frameworks and reconciliatory mechanisms," Zuma, who is also on the AU's high level panel on the Libyan crisis, told Parliament.

The President also used the opportunity to dismiss media reports that SA had sent missionaries to help Gaddafi flee Libya as just "rumours".

Zuma said the AU was most likely expected to reflect on lessons learnt from the Libyan crisis in their January summit, to see what could have been done differently and how they could prevent such cases in the future.

He believed that a lasting and sustainable peaceful solution was still possible through an "all-inclusive political process that will culminate in the holding of the first ever democratic elections in accordance with the roadmap".

The elements of the AU roadmap include the immediate cessation of hostilities, facilitation of the delivery of humanitarian assistance, the protection of foreign and African immigrant workers, the establishment and management of an inclusive transitional period and the adoption and implementation of political reforms to meet the aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, justice, peace and security.

The President also committed to work together with the AU, United Nations, League of Arab States and Organisation of Islamic Conference to ensure coordinated support to the NTC and the Libyan people in their endeavours to reconstruct their country and to bring about democratic, political and socio-economic change.

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