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S. Africa slams Security Council over Libya crisis
by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) Jan 12, 2012

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma on Thursday slammed the UN Security Council's handling of last year's Libya crisis and demanded the institution take greater account of African views in handling conflict.

The African Union was in turn rebuked by US ambassador Susan Rice, at a Security Council meeting on relations between the bodies, for being inconsistent and too slow to act on key issues.

Zuma highlighted allegations by Russia, China, India and his country that NATO's airstrikes in Libya had breached UN resolutions.

He complained to the Security Council that an African Union peace plan for Libya was "completely ignored in favor of bombing Libya by NATO forces."

"The consequences of the actions that were carried out in Libya in the name of the United Nations Security Council have spilled over into other countries in the region," Zuma told the meeting, which was attended by ministers from Africa and council members.

South Africa voted for Security Council Resolution 1973, which was passed on March 17, 2011 and authorized military action to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone.

NATO insists its strikes in Libya were within UN resolutions. South Africa has joined Russia in demanding a UN inquiry into the airstrikes which played a key role in the downfall of Moamer Kadhafi.

Zuma said African Union views "must be listened to if we are to strengthen our relationship and prevent conflict."

He also said there must be no return to Cold War tactics, when Africa was a "playground" for the rival sides battling for influence.

US ambassador Rice said there were "frustrations" on both sides and that the AU-UN relationship has to be improved.

"African Union member states have sometimes indicated that they feel ignored or disregarded by this council," she told the debate.

"Some Security Council members feel African Union member states have not always provided unified or consistent views on key issues and that the African Union has at times been slow to act on important matters."

The US envoy said the UN charter lays down that the Security Council, which has supreme responsibility for international peace and security, is "not subordinate" to any regional body.

She said regional groups like the AU cannot decide policy and UN members "simply bless it and pay for it. There can be no blank check, politically or financially."

But Rice stressed that the Security Council "wants and needs" to cooperate with regional organizations.

The US ambassador was critical of sporadic AU-Security Council meetings.

She said they had not been "productive or satisfactory."

"If they cannot be improved they risked being jettisoned by one side or the other as not useful or worse," said Rice, who said AU-UN relations must be defined "more precisely" and the meetings improved.

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