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Mandela Accuses West Of Shifting Goal Posts

By Di Caelers, Cape Argus, 2 February 2001

Cape Town—Nelson Mandela accused Western governments of shifting the goalposts by failing to honour a deal that sanctions against Libya would be lifted with the handing over for trial of the two Lockerbie bomb suspects.

Speaking to journalists at the University of Cape Town late yesterday, Mandela, who played a crucial role in negotiating the handing-over, said one of the guarantees offered to Libya in return was that sanctions would be lifted, not suspended.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted on Wednesday of the murder of 270 people in the 1988 bombing of a passenger jet over Lockerbie in Scotland.

His co-accused was acquitted.

The United States operates sanctions against Libya, but UN sanctions have been suspended.

Mandela said yesterday he intended speaking to President George Bush in a bid to have all sanctions against Libya lifted.

I hope the West will honour its undertaking—there is already a feeling the west is shifting the goalposts, Mandela said.

When heads of state made international agreements, their successors were expected to honour them.

Once they are dishonoured, you are introducing chaos in international affairs.

Mandela said he trusted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi without reservation and it was totally unacceptable that the West continued its vicious campaign against him.

We expect the West to lead in moral responsibility, not to shift the goalposts, he said.

He wanted to discuss the issue with Bush as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair who, he said, had been very good in helping me to get a settlement.

He hoped Bush would act like his father, who was a man of integrity.

Mandela said he had spoken to Gaddafi on Wednesday, but would not reveal details.

He planned to meet the Libyan ambassador to South Africa last night.