The African Union said a panel established to negotiate a solution to the crisis in Libya was denied entry into the North African country.
Representatives from South Africa, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, Mali and Mauritania had planned to travel to Libya yesterday to meet officials from Muammar Qaddafi’s government and rebels opposed to his rule.
The panel “requested the required permission for the flight carrying its members to Libya” to comply with a United Nations Security Council resolution that imposed a no-fly zone on Libya, the Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-based organization said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “The committee was denied permission.”
The AU didn’t say who denied the panel permission. AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra didn’t answer three calls to his mobile phone today seeking comment.
The U.S., U.K. and France on March 19 launched missiles and airstrikes at targets in Libya to halt attacks on rebel-held towns in the east of the country. The coalition ordered Qaddafi to withdraw his forces from major cities after weeks of fighting that has left hundreds dead in the bloodiest of popular uprisings to have swept the Middle East this year.
“Steps by the AU condemning the violence and marshalling a mediation panel are now a sideshow alongside the actions of the wider international community,” Nana Ampofo, a partner and political analyst at London-based Songhai Advisory, said in an e-mailed note.
The AU has opposed any form of foreign military intervention in Libya, though the three AU members on the UN Security Council, Nigeria, South Africa and Gabon, voted in favor of the no-fly zone.
The AU Commission will hold a meeting in Addis Ababa on March 25 with representatives from the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the European Union and the United Nations to discuss ways of resolving the crisis in Libya, it said.