SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma, stung by domestic criticism, on Monday demanded a cessation of the aerial bombardment of Libya by Western countries.
South Africa, Gabon and Nigeria, the three African countries on the UN Security Council, on March 17 voted in favour of a resolution calling for the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya. It was supported by 10 of the 15 countries on the Security Council.
An alliance of Western countries, led by the United States, Britain and France, last Saturday began attacking Libya’s air defences and other military installations, drawing condemnation from China and Russia who abstained from the vote.
And after coming under attack from his ANC party’s youth wing and political allies in the Communist Party for voting for the resolution, Zuma on Monday accused the United States and its allies of going against the “letter and spirit” of the resolution.
"Operations aimed at enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians should be limited to just that. They should not harm or endanger the civilians that Resolution 1973 sought to protect,” Zuma told a Human Rights Day rally in Athlone, outside Cape Town.
"South Africa recommits itself to the position of the AU Peace and Security Council of March 10, which reaffirmed Africa's strong commitment to the respect of the unity and territorial integrity of Libya, and underscored Africa's rejection of any foreign military intervention, whatever its form.
"The UN Security Council resolution should be implemented in letter and spirit by all member of the UN Security Council.”
The ANC Youth League said the decision to back the resolution had opened up South Africa as “an imperialist weakest link to the African continent”.
“The ANC Youth League is of the view that whilst presented as a means of protecting Libyan civilians, the UN resolution and imposition of a no-fly zone in Libya is meant to impose the West’s takeover of Libya, because of its oil endowments,” said spokesman Floyd Shivambu.
Zuma’s allies in the Communist Party were also critical, saying South Africa was “unwittingly aiding imperialist lust for Libyan oil”.
“Whilst as the SACP we support the President’s call that there must be no attempts at regime change in Libya, and that civilian life has to be protected, it is our firm belief that in voting for this resolution in the Security Council, our government should also have fully considered the dangers of military intervention that may be used by imperialist forces to exploit such attacks for their own ends,” the Communist Party said in a statement.
President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has condemned the attacks in Libya as “imperialist aggression”.
The UN Security Council convened after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi launched a crackdown against domestic opponents who raided armouries and began marching on cities west of the capital Tripoli.