Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe. Source: AFP
Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe on Wednesday voiced his disapproval of the Nato war against Libya calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to charge the allied commanders for committing war crimes in that country.
Motlanthe told Parliament yesterday that the Nato alliance was creating an impression that the Libyan rebels were acting on their own, without any military support on the ground.
He said while the ICC targeted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his commanders for war crimes, the prosecutors should also charge Nato for bombing innocent civilians.
His comments may be interpreted as another indication that South Africa was going to have a cold relationship with the rebel movement that is poised to take over the government in Libya.
Motlanthe was in the National Assembly to answer questions from MPs. He said Nato’s bombing of Libya had set a precedent in the functioning of the UN Security Council.
While the US, Britain and France had pushed for the adoption of resolution 1973 at the council, these countries had abused the resolution. “It creates a problem for future interventions,” Motlanthe said. “As you are aware, the situation in Syria is also of great concern, but precisely because of this precedent created in Libya the Security Council is not being able to agree on how to intervene there.
“In Libya, those who did not vote for resolution 1973 abstained, which allowed the resolution to go through. But this precedent has created very serious doubt (among) the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
“If the ICC is to act on the basis of concrete information against those who would have been responsible for loss of life of civilians it will be difficult for Nato to justify why and how it came to (bomb Libya).”
Motlanthe said despite Nato’s attempts to hide its role on the ground, the military assault on Tripoli showed that there were clear links and coordination plans by the military alliance. The rebels were receiving support from Nato on the ground.
“The question is whether the ICC would have the wherewithal to unearth that information and bring those who are responsible to book including Nato commanders on the ground,” Motlanthe said. This criticism of Nato comes a day after President Jacob Zuma blasted the Western nations of undermining the AU in its mediation efforts in Libya.