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GMC condemns violence against civilians in Libya

Apr 28, 2011, 2:22 PM | Article By: Mai Ahmad Fatty, GMC Party Leader

The opposition Gambia Moral Congress yesterday issued a statement outlining its position on the conflict in Libya, condemning what it said was the violence against civilians, and called on the Libyan Government to respect the right to peaceful assembly, allow genuine political plurality and comprehensive political reform with immediate effect.

The statement, signed by party leader Mai Ahmad Fatty, stated that no international instrument, protocol or consensus has yet recognised the international legitimacy of the Transitional National Council as the newly-constituted government of the Libyan Jamahiriya.

Below we reproduce the full text of the GMC statement:

GMC supports United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1973 (2011) regarding the Libyan Peoples Arab Jamahiriya. The key element of this Resolution is to take all measures to protect the civilian population from violence and largescale atrocities evidently being perpetrated by the security forces of that country.

GMC strongly condemns the violence against civilians, and calls on the Libyan Government to respect the right to peaceful assembly, allow genuine political plurality and comprehensive political reform with immediate effect.

We endorse and adopt the AU position, which is consistent with and complementary to UN SCR 1973, in the bid to strengthen African grown roadmap solutions to African problems. GMC calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities, while urging both sides to genuinely commit to the on-going Addis Ababa peace process involving the Libyan Government and the Benghazi Transitional National Council.

We call for the establishment of a protected humanitarian corridor to freely allow the effective flow of international humanitarian aid and workers, and clear protection for international human rights workers engaged in the investigations of violations of human rights atrocities in Libya.

UNSCR 1973 (2011) (as a sequel to SCR 1970 (2011)) is very specific in terms, with the effect of ensuring that the Libyan Government respects international law and permits the peaceful expression of dissent. This is in consonance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights both of which were ratified by the Libyan Jamahiriya.

In effect, it is a restatement of the ordinary obligation of the Libyan government towards its people, and a further reflection of the collective will of the international community to enforce compliance with this duty.

However, SCR 1973 (2011) recognizes the sovereignty of the Libyan Jamahiriya and its lawfully constituted government. It recognizes the Libyan Leader as Head of State of the Libyan Jamahiriya, and inherently affirms the unity and indivisibility of the Libyan Jamahiriya as one sovereign entity under one legitimate government.

The Security Council is very clear on the principle that the Resolution does not call for regime change in Libya, and this fact has been repeatedly echoed by all of the continental powers and principal allies.

Paragraph 4 of the SCR 1973 (2011) which authorizes “the use of all necessary means” is limited to the protection of civilians and civilian populated areas.

Therefore, NATO and its coalition partners would be in breach of international law and flagrant violation of SCR 1973 (2011), if they engage in any acts, measures or initiatives that may hinge on regime change in Libya, contrary to the law that legitimises international intervention in Libya.

The United States, the European Union, the Arab League and the African Union unanimously agreed that the purpose of SCR 1973 is not regime change.

The law does not grant a carte blanche right to NATO and allies to target the residence of the Libyan Leader.

NATO and allies would require a new Security Council Resolution that would empower them under international law to arm Libyan civilians or engage in any other effort remotely connected to regime change. Such a Resolution thus far does not exist.

It is important to appreciate that Para. 28 of SCR 1973 (2011) established the initiative as a temporary measure, and renders the process subject to periodic reviews. The review could result to “suspending or lifting those measures as appropriate, based on compliance by the Libyan authorities”.

The language of the law establishes further evidence of the inherent recognition by the Security Council of its indisputable continuing recognition of the current Libyan Government as constituted.

No international Instrument, protocol or consensus has yet recognised the international legitimacy of the Transitional National Council as the newly constituted government of the Libyan Jamahiriya.

Asset freeze is provided for under SCR 1973 (2011), but the law limits it to assets belonging to the Libyan State, not private property belonging to Libyan investors with some funding from the Libyan State.

It is dangerous for a government to make public declarations without proper verification or implement extra-ordinary decisions without sound knowledge of essential facts, or proper consultations.

The act of a government in international diplomacy bind its citizens, and that is why sovereign decisions ought to be made purely in the national interests at all times, after exhaustive analytical processes of consultations with comprehensive verifications.

GMC is of the firm view that The Gambia Government was not properly briefed on SCR 1973 or that it acted without proper consultations.

Those dealing with the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council have clearly acknowledged that they do so NOT under the authority of SCR 1973 (2011) but outside of any accepted or legitimate international framework.

One shouldn’t leap impetuously without looking as some leaders are prone to doing. What national security or foreign policy goals would it serve for The Gambia (at this stage) to hurriedly implement such an extra-ordinary decision in expelling a friendly government in lieu of a Western-sponsored rebel movement?

Events in Libya are very dynamic and rapidly transforming. It requires further reflection before a decision is made.

Arming a rebel force by certain countries and legitimising a rebel government in part of the territory of the Libyan Jamahiriya, specifically Bengazi, is illegal and contrary to UN SCR 1973 (2011).

The effect of such an unlawful act inevitably is to effect regime change, which would render the subject Resolution a mere pretext to invade a sovereign country.

GMC believes that this would be establishing a new precedent of unpredictable consequences in international affairs, in that any group of people who feel threatened by their country´s security forces or endure under the chronic denial of basic rights like free press, free assembly and institutionalised rule of fear, would seek justification under the Libyan precedent to wage armed conflict so as to overthrow that government.

Peaceful dialogue as a prelude is being negated here as a rational approach to the settlement of disputes, which per se is contrary to both the UN Charter and the AU Constitutive Act.

Any African government that recognizes and legitimises the Western-sponsored Benghazi rebel group, must a fortiori ensure that conditions that gave rise to the Libyan public uprising against its government do not exist in its country.

These include the practical enforcement of respect for all fundamental freedoms, presence of an independent judiciary, a strong parliament, free press, absence of institutionalised rule of fear, presence of strong institutions of state, and ensuring that arable lands belonging to people are not encroached upon by its leaders. 

Such a government should not encourage the enthronement of an ethnically-dominated security establishment, or threaten segments of the population with denial to development endowments if they do not vote for it. In order words, national development resources should not be politicised.

In the absence of these, it amounts to nothing but the pot calling the kettle black.