23 August 2011
South Africa has pledged to contribute to the rebuilding of Libya as Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade-long rule crumbles – while denying that it had sent a plane to evacuate Gaddafi from the oil-rich north African country.
As news broke on Monday of rebel forces taking control of Tripoli, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that South Africa did, however, have a plane on stand-by in Tunisia in case South Africans and embassy staff in Libya needed rescue.
“The South African government would like to refute the rumours that it has sent planes to Libya to fly Colonel Gaddafi and his family to an undisclosed location,” Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters.
According to media reports quoting a rebel spokeman, the rebels now control over 95% of Tripoli, including the Libyan state radio building. Gaddafi’s two sons have also reportedly been arrested, with his eldest son, Mohammed Al-Gaddafi, apparently surrendering to rebel forces.
South Africa says it will support the will of the people of Libya.
“With the imminent fall of the government of Colonel Gaddafi, we wish to urge the interim authority in Tripoli to immediately institute an all-inclusive inter-Libyan political dialogue aimed at building a truly representative and people-centred dispensation,” the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said in a statement on Monday.
The statement also made it clear that Pretoria had no knowledge of Gaddafi’s whereabouts, with Nkoana-Mashabane adding that officials in South Africa were “sure that he will not be coming here.”
The government said the political and socio-economic transformation of Libya “held real prospects of ushering in a new era based on the will of people in which Libya should take its rightful place in the community of nations.
“As Libya turns a new leaf in its history, the transitional government has the immediate responsibility of building national unity and reconciliation, restoring public order, reconstruction and reviving the economy.”