By SA News
By Chris Bathembu
As Libya’s political uprising continues to gain momentum, with more than 1 000 people reportedly killed, the country’s Ambassador to South Africa Abdallah Alzubedi on Monday refused to bow to pressure for him to resign.
Several Libyan ambassadors and high commissioners in countries across the world have stepped down since the outbreak of popular protests against ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who has ruled the Arab country for nearly 40 years.
Calls have since been made for Alzubedi and his entire staff in Pretoria to resign as a show of solidarity with the people of Libya.
But at press conference on Monday, the ambassador, who has been in South Africa for 15 years, insisted that closing down the mission in Pretoria “would not be in the best interest” of Libyans.
He did, however, take some responsibility for what was happening in Tripoli and other parts of Libya since the masses took to the streets on 17 February. The unrest is part of similar protests sweeping throughout the Arab world in the past several weeks.
“Maybe some of us should have done something a long time ago… maybe we should have spoken more louder but you must all understand that after speaking (against the regime), there were no chances of survival,” Alzubedi said refusing to elaborate.
Asked if he wanted Gaddafi’s four-decade long rule to come to an end, Alzubedi said: “I call upon him to do the right thing for the people of Libya. He should take the ultimate decision for the unity of the country and an end to the bloodshed that is currently happening.”
The killing of civilians has sparked an international outcry and widespread condemnation from leaders across the globe.
The UN Security Council stepped up action by imposing an arms embargo against Libya and referred the matter to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In a statement released on Friday, the Libyan Embassy in Pretoria also condemned “in the strongest terms” the attacks against unarmed Libyans.
On Monday, Alzubedi said while the mission had lost almost all contact with government, it backed all the international pressure to force Gaddafi out of office.
“What is happening in our country is more than just anger, it’s an uprising in so many ways and we all have to do something to stop it,” said the ambassador.
He said more than 1 000 Libyan students in South Africa were currently receiving government scholarships through the mission and feared the current situation may jeopardise their funding.
Despite the mounting pressure and the continued loss of life, Gaddafi has refused to let go of his grip on power, with his sons reportedly saying they will “hold on until the last drop of blood.”
Clashes between anti- and pro-government groups have also seen that country spiral out of control.
South Africa has expressed its deep concern at developments and supported the resolution by the UN to impose an arms embargo against Gaddafi.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation on Monday confirmed that the last batch of South Africans, who had been stranded in Libya, arrived in the country last night.