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South Africa President criticizes UN over Libya

Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – South African President Jacob Zuma told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that it “completely ignored” the African Union when it allowed NATO’s bombing campaign to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Zuma made his comments to the 15-member council during a debate on a resolution seeking to improve relations between U.N. and the A.U.

“A problem which was confined to one country, Libya, has now grown to be a regional problem. The lesson we should draw from the Libyan experience is that greater political coherence and a common vision between the A.U. and the U.N. are critical in the resolution of African conflicts,” Zuma said.

Zuma also said that the ignored African plan would have helped resolve the conflict. He added that the resolution was important not because Africa did not want outside help, but that those who provide help must take into account African concerns.

“It is important that an international organization like the United Nations take into account the realities on the local level when it takes a decision,” Zuma said.

South Africa, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency for the month of January, has recently been critical of the NATO bombing campaign saying that when it voted for the U.N. resolution approving a no-fly zone to protect civilians it had not intended to authorize regime change.

Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations disputed Zuma’s characterization of the campaign.

“The international action in Libya saved tens of thousands of innocent civilians from slaughter, and the subsequent overthrow by the Libyan people of a brutal dictator has inspired people across the region and the world to pursue their own universal human rights and freedoms,” Kornblau said in a statement.

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