While coalition planes attempt to soften up Libyan dictator Muammar Qadafi militarily, it is the diplomats' job to try to peel away his diplomatic support. This was one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's intentions when she addressed the African Union yesterday in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa . She urged the assembled countries to take stronger action against the Libyan leader and couple their call for a cease-fire with an equally loud call for Qaddafi to leave.
"Your words and your actions could make the difference in bringing this situation to a close and allowing the people of Libya to get to work writing a constitution and rebuilding their country", she said.
In her remarks, Ms. Clinton admitted that she had a hard sell. Some of the African countries opposed the measures in Libya, although Clinton noted that the three African members in the Security Council voted for resolution 1973 authorizing the action in Libya.
Clinton realized that the major obstacles were the ties that the Libyan ruler had managed to build up in Africa, primarily by extending financial and sometimes military support. Another problem is the embarrassing fact that many African leaders are not exactly paragons of democratic virtue. The thought undoubtedly crossing their mind was that if Qaddafi could be toppled. this could also serve as a precedent for their own removal.
Clinton sought to tackle these objections head on:
"I know it’s true that over many years Mr. Qaddafi played a major role in providing financial support for many African nations and institutions, including the African Union. But it has become clearer by the day that he has lost his legitimacy to rule."
As for solidarity between dictators Clinton warned the assembled leaders:
"The old ways of governing are no longer acceptable. It is time for leaders to lead with accountability, treat their people with dignity, respect their rights and deliver economic opportunity. And if they will not, then it is time for them to go.”
Ms. Clinton did not encounter any direct opposition and was accorded a polite reception. She also took pains not to mention any African autocrats by name, with the exception of Qaddafi.
South African President, Jacob Zuma replied to the US Secretary of State in a speech before South Africa's Parliament. Mr. Zuma who had traveled to Libya twice and had presumably secured Qaddafi's agreement to an African Union cease-fire plan, that was rejected by the insurgents, claimed that the coalition in Libya had overstepped resolution 1973.
Instead of merely protecting civilians, it was actively engaged in regime change and political assassinations. "We have spoken out against the misuse of the good intentions," said Zuma.