It’s time for AU to take charge of the decade-old mess that is Libya

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The UN-led Libya Forum elected an interim government made up of four leaders in an effort to steer the country towards a smooth passage of peace till December when the war-torn country goes to the polls.

This year marks ten years since a Western-led overthrow of the long-serving Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. To borrow from the Westerners, they had sought to “liberate” Libya by removing, nay, killing Gaddafi.

The once stable, oil-rich country, which is a member of OPEC, has never known peace since the carefully supported uprisings against Gaddafi which culminated in the once-revered “Brotherly Leader” being hunted down like a despised animal and then killed in broad day-light, to the delight of the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In life, Gaddafi was one of Africa’s foremost Pan-Africanist leaders who sought the cancellation of the Westphalian borders and a single currency for the entire continent.

He died a gruesome death somewhere in the veld in Libya, away from the rarefied atmosphere of his country’s capital, Tripoli.

Since the unfortunate Western-led reconfiguration of Libya, the country has known no peace. Men, women and children are able to go to bed on empty stomachs in a country where once almost every citizen held two jobs at the same time.

Following the unprecedented chaos that followed the ousting of Gaddafi and the scramble by foreigners for the control of Libya’s oil, the country has remained almost completely torn. Since 2014, post-Gaddafi Libya boasts two governments (yes, two!) with each going on about its business (including killing each other) without due consideration to the national good. But then again, what value can there be in a national good when there is a glaring absence of a common national agenda behind which the populace ought to be bound together?

The two governments that have been vying for the ultimate control of the entire country are made up of The Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based West of Tripoli and the other is Libyan National Army (LNA), which is based in Benghazi in the eastern part of Libya and is led by the Western-educated, ambitious Khalifa Haftar.

Apart from the strong support of each government by heavily-armed militias, foreign involvement in Libya’s civil war was remained unabated. The UN, strategic neighbour Turkey and Washington support the GNA. On the other hand, the LNA is backed by Russia, strategic neighbour Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

This is the current mess that was created after a UN Resolution that imposed a no-fly zone for Gaddafi’s Airforce under the pretext that they were shelling innocent civilians. South Africa’s support for the resolution caused a serious rift inside the ruling ANC in South Africa. It’s youth wing, then led by Julius Malema, was vehemently opposed to the resolution and the episode increased tension between the mother body and the youth of Africa’s oldest liberation movement.

It was in fact the resolution that paved the way for a US-led NATO bombing that was hailed by then US president Barack Obama as a crucial precursor to the eventual removal of Gaddafi from power.

The deafening silence that is marking ten full years of the destruction of one of Africa’s crown jewels is mind-boggling. It is as if there were no lessons learnt from this sorry episode that refuses to end.

Among the key lessons that should be derived from the invasion of Libya should be the proper role of the African Union and its intervention strategy in conflicts in the continent.

An African solution to African problems isn’t a poorly-thought-out framework. Indeed, we live in a 21st-century globalized world and in as much as the universe has become one global village. I am yet to hear of Africa solving European Union disputes, by way of example.

The AU must henceforth get into the fray in Libya and demand to play a leading role in resolving the conflict, not of their making. The EU, US, Turkey, all foreign players in the Libyan conflict need to take a back seat and allow the AU together with the UN to oversee Libya’s transition to normality. There should be no conflict on the African soil that the AU becomes only a spectator to and let foreign powers reign supreme. The AU can start today to get its house in order.

It is better late than never.