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South Africa’s Zuma Boycotts Libya Meeting, Says UN Should Lead

South African President Jacob Zuma boycotted today’s meeting in Paris to discuss Libya’s postwar reconstruction, saying the United Nations should lead transition efforts.

South Africa says North Atlantic Treaty Organization airstrikes against Muammar Qaddafi’s government went beyond the mandate of the UN Security Council resolution to protect civilians and undermined African efforts to broker a cease-fire. Zuma’s administration has declined to recognize the National Transitional Council as the legitimate authority in Libya and instead called for an inclusive government.

“Now the NTC has taken over the larger part of Libya you need the United Nations to take the initiative as to how to move forward,” Zuma told reporters today in Oslo, Norway’s capital, during a state visit. “If all of us individual countries take our own individual kind of initiatives we don’t know where this will end.”

Sixty delegations are attending the one-day Paris meeting. Participating nations include those that provided air cover for the rebels -- such as the U.S., France, Britain, Italy and Qatar -- as well as Germany and others that refused to commit military forces.

Zuma said the Security Council resolution 1973 was abused to favor one side in the conflict and the air strikes resulted in the death of innocent civilians.

Zuma served as part of an African Union panel that sought to broker talks between Qaddafi and the rebels. The group called for a cease-fire and a period of transitional rule that would lead to democratic elections.

“There was no meeting the African Union halfway in terms of finding a political way of solving the problem earlier before so many people died,” he said.

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