African Union names panel to help end Libya crisis

March 13, 2011 - 0:0

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The leaders of South Africa, Uganda, Mauritania, Congo and Mali will form a panel that will travel to Libya shortly to help end the violence there, the African Union announced late on Friday.

“The ad hoc committee was set up ... to engage with all parties in Libya, facilitate in an inclusive dialogue among them, and engage AU partners ... for the speedy resolution of the crisis in Libya,” the bloc said.
At a meeting of heads of state on Thursday, the head of the AU's Peace and Security Council, Ramtane Lamamra, said events in the north African country needed “urgent African action” to bring about an end to the hostilities.
The AU has rejected foreign military intervention in Libya, where forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi are battling with rebels seeking to end his 42-year-old rule.
On Saturday, troops loyal to Gaddafi launched an assault on the city of Misrata.
The only rebel outpost between the capital and the eastern front around the oil town of Ras Lanuf is Misrata, Libya's third largest city, with a population of some 300,000 people, around 200 km (130 miles) east of Tripoli.
“They are trying to get into Misrata, they are now 10 km away,” said rebel spokesman Gemal by telephone. “We are hearing shelling. We have no choice but to fight.”
“I can hear loud explosions,” said a resident who would only give his name as Mohammad. “Everybody is rushing home, the shops have closed and the rebels are taking up positions.”
It took a week of repeated assaults by government troops, backed by tanks and air power to finish off the uprising in Zawiyah, a much smaller town, 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli.