South Africa's Zuma to Negotiate With Qaddafi

But if he doesn't convince the Libyan leader to give up power, can his visit really make a difference? 

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jacobzuma
Jacob Zuma (Getty Images)

South African President Jacob Zuma has arrived in Tripoli today, hoping to broker a deal between Muammar Qaddafi and the rebels who want to drive him from power. But as the Los Angeles Times reports, the Libyan leader has given no indication that he will step down and leave the country.

It's unclear exactly what kind of deal the two leaders might be discussing, but Qaddafi seems determined to maintain his grip on power despite demands from the rebels, Western governments, Russia and Turkey. "No one has the right to ask him to leave the grave of his forefathers," says Musa Ibrahim, chief government spokesman.

The regime appears to be placing considerable hope in Zuma, who will be representing the African Union, many of whose members have benefited from Qaddafi's rule. But others are skeptical about how effective he'll be. The rebels and their allies have already rejected the African Union's proposal, which includes a cease-fire and negotiated settlement, but not Qaddafi's departure.

"I don't see what Mr. Zuma is going to negotiate," George Joffe, an affiliate lecturer and North Africa expert at Cambridge University, told the Los Angeles Times. "I think Qaddafi's trying to hold on in the hope that the African Union can pull a rabbit out of its hat and NATO will accept some kind of compromise. But I don't think a compromise is in the cards."

At this point, "negotiate," "compromise" and "Qaddafi" don't even sound like they belong in the same sentence. But if there's any chance at all that Zuma's visit can make a difference in Libya's increasingly desperate situation, we think it's worth the trip.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

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