South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says that as African Union (AU) chairperson this year, his peace and security priorities will focus on resolving South Sudan and Libya’s crises. The AU has been asserting, with increasing vigour, that it must be included in attempts at brokering peace and bringing stability to Libya. The AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) has also laid out clear next steps for its efforts there.
At its summit a month ago, the AU proposed sending a fact-finding mission comprising African chiefs of defence from the five regions. This will be done in collaboration with the United Nations (UN). Heads of state also decided to upgrade the AU Liaison Office in Libya so it has more diplomatic and military capacity. The AU chairperson has been tasked with determining funding options for the two decisions.
It was the second African-led meeting on Libya in 10 days, following the Berlin conference involving several role players and the Geneva meeting that brought together the military leaders of the two main Libyan factions.
Many believe South Africa and Ramaphosa can use their peacemaking and mediation experience to help settle the conflict in Libya. South Africa may also want to repair a potential mistake when the country voted in favour of the 2011 UN Security Council resolution that opened the door to foreign intervention in Libya.