ICC Warrant ‘Pours Oil on Fire’ in Libya, African Union Says

An International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and two others “pours oil on the fire” instead of helping to end the war, said Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission.

“Everyone can see that the ICC always comes at an inconvenient time, which pours oil on the fire,” Ping said today. “You know very well that it complicates the situation.”

There should be no preconditions to talks between rebels and Qaddafi’s government, Ping told reporters when asked whether the Libyan leader shouldn’t be part of a transitional government. Ping was speaking in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, ahead of an African Union summit that starts tomorrow.

On June 27, the Hague-based ICC issued arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Qaddafi and military intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. The three men are accused of killing, injuring, arresting and imprisoning hundreds of civilians during anti-regime protests that began in February.

The National Transitional Council, which is battling the Libyan army to oust the longtime dictator, said after the ICC action that there is no room for Qaddafi, who has led Libya for 42 years, to be involved in talks in any way.

AU Initiative

Ping insisted that there is no way around an AU initiative calling for the end of NATO airstrikes on Qaddafi’s forces and political negotiations for a transitional government. While a panel of African leaders tasked with pursuing a solution to the Libyan crisis on June 26 said Qaddafi shouldn’t participate in talks, it didn’t say that he shouldn’t be involved in the future leadership of the North African nation.

The government of France confirmed today that it had provided the rebels with arms to fight Qaddafi. Ping criticized that action, saying that it increases the “risk of civil war, risk of partition of the country, the risk of Somalisation of the country” -- a reference to longstanding divisions in the east African nation of Somalia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, at fwild@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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