South African President Jacob Zuma hit out at what it called “dangerous rhetoric” concerning possible strikes against Syria and warned any military action must have United Nations backing.
“We are concerned by the rhetoric pointing to the possibility of a military intervention,” said Zuma while condemning “the chemical weapons attack” in Damascus.
“South Africa does not believe that bombing the already suffering people and crumbling infrastructure of Syria, will contribute to a sustainable solution.”
“Military intervention will serve no other purpose than hurting the possibility of a speedy diplomatic solution to the conflict.”
South Africa, the continent’s largest economy and a G20 member, has largely opposed non-UN Western military intervention since becoming a fully democratic state in 1994, with the fall of apartheid.
“Any attack on Syria without the UN Security Council authorisation would constitute a grave violation of international law and dangerously undermine international order,” Zuma said.
South Africa has long sought a seat on the United Nations Security Council, but has irked Western powers with its stance on Zimbabwe and Libya — where it backed authoritarian rulers’ bids to remain in power.
In recent years South Africa has moved to deepen ties with China and Russia, long-time supporters of the ruling ANC during the anti-apartheid struggle.
Zuma was speaking during a meeting with his counterpart from Sao Tome and Principe, Manuel Pinto da Costa. – Sapa/AFP