Zuma Condemns Western Nations’ Intervention in Africa

South African President Jacob Zuma criticized interventions by the U.S. and other Western nations in African conflicts that he says have left countries such as Libya worse off.

In an interview with Paris-based France 24 today, Zuma raised concerns about the U.S. raid on a Somali town earlier this month to capture a leader of the Islamist group al-Shabaab.

“It does bother us, because we are here on the continent,” Zuma said. “We need to be dealing with the continent. People who feel they need to make a contribution or assist should be assisting the Africans rather than to boldly say we are coming into your continent and do what we want.”

At the same time as the Somali raid, U.S. special forces captured an al-Qaeda leader, known as Abu Anas al-Libi, off the streets of Libya, prompting criticism from the North African government that the U.S. didn’t inform them of the operation in advance. The U.S. and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization used military force to help the opposition to overthrow Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, action that was opposed by Zuma.

“As African countries we had a road map on how to deal with the Libyan issue,” Zuma said. “Then the big countries bombed it and killed Qaddafi and left a worser security situation in the north of Africa.”

Since Libya’s first free election in more than 50 years in 2012, militias who led the fighting against Qaddafi, including some Islamists, have been using force to exact concessions and expand their power.

Mali Intervention

Zuma defended his support of the French government’s intervention in Mali in January to prevent Islamist rebels allied to al-Qaeda from taking control of the north of the country.

“Rebels were attacking Mali, they were about to take over Mali,” he said. “The French talked to us. They did not just come in and bomb.”

Zuma also welcomed help from France in Central African Republic, which is struggling to restore order after Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in a coup in March, prompting international condemnation and the country’s suspension from the African Union.

“I think we have passed that stage when colonial countries would come and do whatever by force because they had colonized us,” said Zuma. “We are countries that are trying to look after the security of the continent. There should be working together to deal with terrorists all over.”

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