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WAR REPORT
AU urges end to military action targeting Libyan officials

by Staff Writers
Addis Ababa (AFP) April 27, 2011
The African Union Wednesday urged an end to military actions targeting senior Libyan officials, two days after an allied air strike hit Moamer Kadhafi's compound in Tripoli.

"Council urges all involved to refrain from actions, including military operations targeting Libyan senior officials... that would further compound the situation and make it more difficult to achieve international consensus on the best way forward," the AU said.

The pan-African body stressed the need for all the parties involved in the implementation of UN resolution 1973 "to act in a manner fully consistent with international legality and the resolution's provisions, whose objective is solely to ensure the protection of the civilian population."

On Monday allied warplanes struck Kadhafi's compound in Tripoli. US and British defence chiefs Robert Gates and Liam Fox said at a joint press conference Tuesday the choice of target was legitimate.

The AU statement said the body would look into convening an extraordinary meeting in May to review "peace and security on the continent, in light of the new crises and threats ..."

Libya's foreign minister on Tuesday had asked the AU Peace and Security Council to convene an extraordinary summit to find ways to fight "external forces."

"My delegation proposes the holding as soon as possible of an extraordinary session of the assembly of the (African) Union to identify the ways that enable our continent to mobilise capabilities to face the external forces which aggress against us," Abdelati Obeidi said.

Talks at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa seeking a negotiated settlement to the Libyan conflict began on Monday and wound up late Tuesday, with AU officials meeting with a team sent by Kadhafi and a rebel delegation. The sides did not, however, meet for direct talks.

The AU has put forward suggestions for a way out of the conflict. Kadhafi's side has said it would abide by the proposals but the rebels say they can only accept the AU's offer once Kadhafi and his sons leave power.

The African body said it wanted to speed up consultations with a view to starting "negotiations on a ceasefire and the other aspects of the Libyan crisis." These talks will be led by the AU and will also involve the Arab League, the European Union and the UN.

It urged the Libyan parties to cooperate in the talks and said there should be "no preconditions" for them to start.

Massive protests in Libya in mid-February, inspired by the revolts that toppled long-time autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia, escalated into war when Kadhafi's troops fired on demonstrators and protesters seized several eastern towns.

An international coalition intervened on March 19, launching air raids and missile strikes under a UN mandate aimed at protecting civilians from Kadhafi's forces fighting the rebellion.

NATO took command of air campaign on March 31.



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