The African Union (AU) still wants to find a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Libya, despite intensified NATO airstrikes against the regime of Libyan ruler
Moamer Gaddafi, heads of state said Wednesday.
"The situation on the ground is desperate. This summit should be a new step in our search for peace in Libya",
Jean Ping, chairperson of the AU Commission said. He demanded a stronger role for the AU in resolving the conflict.
"Without African leadership, there can be no solution in the field of peace. This summit should send a clear message to our partners," Ping added.
African heads of state and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are meeting for an extraordinary AU-summit in Addis Ababa to discuss the situation in Libya Thursday and Friday. The situation in South Sudan, Somalia and the Ivory Coast are also high on the agenda.
Concerning a common AU-UN approach to the multiple crises, Ban said during the opening ceremony: "The challenges are large, but I am confident that we can overcome them by working closely together."
South African President Jacob Zuma, who has been part of a team seeking a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Libya, announced that he will meet Gaddafi for talks in Libya on May 30.
Zuma led an African Union mission to Tripoli in April.
On March 10, the Peace and Security Council of the AU adopted a roadmap calling for: the immediate cessation of all hostilities; cooperation from Libyan authorities with delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy populations; the protection of foreign nationals; and the adoption and implementation of the political reforms necessary for the elimination of the causes of the current crisis.