AU chief condemns foreign intervention in Ivory Coast, Libya

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GENEVA: African Union chairman Teodoro Obiang Nguema on Tuesday condemned foreign military intervention in Ivory Coast and Libya, saying that Africa must be allowed to manage its own affairs.

"Africa does not need any external influence. Africa must manage its own affairs," Obiang Nguema, who is also president of Equatorial Guinea, told an international conference in Geneva.

"Each foreigner is susceptible to proposing erroneous solutions. African problems cannot be resolved with a European, American or Asian view," he said.

The AU chairman noted that violence in Ivory Coast has led to significant human losses and that the union pressured strongman Laurent Gbagbo to step down and to recognize Alassane Ouattara as the legitimately elected president of the Ivory Coast.

But this should not "imply a war, an intervention of a foreign army," he said.

He also singled out the UN-sanctioned intervention in Libya for criticism.

"I believe that the problems in Libya should be resolved in an internal fashion and not through an intervention that could appear to reassemble a humanitarian intervention. We have already seen this in Iraq," said Obiang Nguema.

The AU chairman also pointed out that the AU "should be implicated in constitutional problems" in Ivory Coast, Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Obiang Nguema was appointed AU chairman in January, but critics have cited his poor human rights record at home which they say stands at odds with the democracy aspirations of the 53-member pan-African bloc.

The Equatorial Guinea president took power in a 1979 coup and has ruled his western African country with an iron fist.

In Geneva, Obiang Nguema stressed that Africa, and in particular his country, are transiting towards more transparent and open societies.

However, he said any changes must be done in a gradual manner to avoid irreparable errors.

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