NOUAKCHOTT, March 19, 2011 (AFP) – A high-level African Union panel on the Libyan crisis Saturday rejected “any kind of foreign military intervention” in the north African country, Mauritanian President Ould Abdel Aziz said. The situation in Libya “demands urgent action so an African solution (can be found) to the very serious crisis which this sister nation is going through”, said Abdel Aziz. A solution must take into account “our desire that Libya’s unity and territorial integrity be respected as well as the rejection of any kind of foreign military intervention.”
Mauritania’s leader acknowledged however that the AU panel was faced with new developments in the Libyan crisis after Thursday’s UN Security Council vote authorising the use of force against the regime of Moamer Kadhafi, and a Paris summit Saturday which announced the start of military operations against Kadhafi’s forces. “We must better coordinate our efforts with all our partners and all concerned parties to find a quick settlement of the crisis,” he said. French warplanes carried out four air strikes in Libya Saturday, destroying several armoured vehicles of forces loyal to strongman Moamer Kadhafi, the French military said earlier. And Washington announced late Saturday that US and British forces fired Tomahawk cruise missiles at Kadhafi’s air defence sites.
The AU’s five-member heads of state committee had been expected to “determine the modalities of the implementation of its mandate”, a week after its composition was announced. “Following this meeting, the members of the committee will undertake to engage the Libyan parties and assess the situation in Libya,” an AU statement had said Thursday. It comprised the leaders of several countries: Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso, Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and host Abdel Aziz. The panel was tasked to seek “the immediate cessation of all hostilities, the cooperation of the competent Libyan authorities to facilitate the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy populations”. Other aims were “the protection of foreign nationals, including the African migrants living in Libya, and the adoption and implementation of the political reforms necessary for the elimination of the causes of the current crisis”. After the meeting the committee members were to travel to Tripoli on Sunday
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