Date: Wed, 11 Jun 97 21:51:01 CDT
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Subject: OAU: Overwhelming Support for Libya from African Leaders

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** Topic: OAU: Overwhelming Support for Libya from African Leaders **
** Written 8:25 PM Jun 9, 1997 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
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Copyright 1997 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

Overwhelming Support for Libya from African Leaders

By Lewis Machipisa. InterPress Service. 4 June, 1997

HARARE, Jun 4 (IPS) - The United Kingdom and the United States have no grounds for keeping up sanctions on Libya as that country has met requirements set by the UN Security Council, African leaders declared Wednesday.

At the end of three days of deliberations at the 33rd Summit of the Organisation of Africa Countries (OAU), the leaders regretted the continuation of UN sanctions against Libya and expressed ''deep concern over the human and material deprivations to which the Libyan people have been subjected.''

''We wish to emphasise that these obnoxious sanctions affect not only the Libyan people, but also the neighbouring countries as well as African workers from other countries of the continent,'' the leaders said in a declaration released at the end of the summit.

They also stated, as in past summits, that the continuation of the sanctions -- imposed following Libya's refusal to hand over to Britain two men blamed for the bombing a US plane over Scotland in 1988 -- might force African countries to devise other means of sparing the Libyan people future suffering.

''There is no real basis for continuing sanctions in light of Libya's own preparedness to have these people who are alleged to have committed the offence tried at other venues than those which Britain and the United States insist on,'' said Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is chairman of OAU.

''Where have you seen a situation were those suspected of committing an offence are condemned in advance and final positions are taken which amount really to having them tried and condemned,'' said Mugabe.

''Surely if we take the common laws of Britain and the United States one is not convicted until one is tried through an appropriate and judicial process and that process is transparent and judges are objective judges,'' Mugabe added.

Libya should be allowed to develop its economy without sanctions. People of Libya have suffered enough and those who have gone to Libya can vouch for it,'' Mugabe said Wednesday.

The summit focused not only on political matters but also on economic ones. According to OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim, it dealt with ''fundamental issues relating to the bread and butter of our people, economic cooperation and integration and the real problems of instability and insecurity in the continent.''

The May 25 coup in the West African state of Sierra Leone was the most topical issue, according to Salim. ''We have requested countries in that region to do whatever is possible to restore constitutional legality in that country,'' he said.

Paradoxically, the country leading efforts to have Sierra Leone's elected president reinstated is Nigeria, which has provided the bulk of the troops sent there by other West African nations to force the Sierra Leonean military junta to step down.

Nigeria itself is ruled by a military strongman.

Asked about this, Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister, Stan Mudenge, said: ''The OAU has not asked Nigeria. We have asked ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) and it so happens at the moment that the 16 countries of ECOWAS have chosen Nigeria as their chairman.''

''That is the regional arrangement. You can't say when you ask a regional group to go and address an issue 'please don't include your chairman'. It doesn't make sense,'' said Mudenge. ''The OAU is not sitting folding its hands in the case of Nigeria. We have expressed concern about human rights in Nigeria, about the lack of democracy.''

According to Salim, the OAU ''would like to see a democratic government in Nigeria because of the special role and special importance of Nigeria to Africa. A democratic Nigeria will show a proper example.''

''There is no hypocrisy as far as far as the OAU deals with the situation in Sierra Leone. The OAU has taken a position that the coup there is unacceptable and everything must be done to restore legality in that country,'' noted Salim.

Mugabe intimated that the stance taken on Sierra Leone was indicative of a change at the OAU level. The regional grouping, he said, is ''getting tougher and tougher each time as we move into the future and I can assure you that future coup plotters and those who overthrow governments will have more difficulty to get recognition, whatever the size of the country.''

''Peace and democracy are growing in Africa and so there is now a definite attitude to coups and illegitimate governments,'' said Mugabe.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC-former Zaire), where rebel leader Laurent Kabila became president a few weeks ago after ousting long-time dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, also came in for mention.

''We welcome the determination and commitment of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the promotion of stability and consolidation of peace as well as to creating a political environment that will be sustain democracy and to ensure that respect of human rights,'' they said in their declaration.

Kabila has come in for criticism from some sectors in the West and the United Nations for massacres reportedly perpetrated against Rwandan Hutu refugees in his country and the OAU leaders welcomed his ''commitment to cooperate with humanitarian agencies to enable them to provide the much need assistance to refugees and facilitate the voluntary repatriation of the remaining refugees.''

On the reform of the UN Security Council, the leaders declared that membership of that body should be expanded to 26 for the benefit of developing countries, and African nations in particular.

''Africa should be allocated no less than two permanent seats. These seats will be alloted to countries by a decision of Africans themselves, in accordance with a system of rotation based on the current established criteria of the OAU and subsequent elements which might improve upon these criteria,'' read the declaration. ''Africa should be allocated five non-permanent seats in the expanded Security Council.''

''We would want to see the veto gone,'' said Mugabe, ''but we do recognise that in some cases you do not get all that you make a bid for. We have said therefore that if it's not possible for the veto to go, at least the application of the veto in terms of the scope should be limited.

''We are talking about democracy and they (Western powers) are the people who are loud-mouthed about it... we don't want those bullying boys anymore.''

The African leaders also requested the director-general of the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), in cooperation the UN Economic Commission on Africa (ECA) and the OAU to organise a meeting of donors under the leadership of the African Development Bank to decide on measures for financing Africa's industrialisation. (end/ips/lm/kb/97)

Origin: Harare/AFRICA-OAU/
[c] 1997, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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