Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi has agreed to stay out of negotiations on ending his country's four-month conflict, African leaders said in a communique after talks Sunday in South Africa.
The African Union panel on Libya "welcomes Colonel Gaddafi's acceptance of not being part of the negotiations process," the statement said, without elaborating.
AU peace and security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra read out the communique but refused to take questions. A South Arican official said after the panel meeting: "We wanted Gaddafi to make a public statement that he would not take part in the negotiations but he would not.
"This means he is finished," the official, who formed part of a South African team that travelled to Tripoli last month in a failed bid to launch peace negotiations, told AFP. He did not want to be named.
The communique repeated the African Union's call for an immediate ceasefire that would lead to negotiations toward democracy, as well as an end to NATO air raids against Gaddafi targets. "The Libyan parties should begin the national dialogue for a comprehensive ceasfire, national reconciliation, transitional arrangements, as well as the agenda for democratic transformation," it said.
"These measures we are proposing should go hand in hand with an equally determined humanitarian effort," it added.
"In this context, we reiterate the call we made at the extraordinary summit of the AU of May 25, 2011, for the stopping of NATO bombings and the observance of a humanitarian pause."
Meanwhile, South African President Jacob Zuma Sunday warned NATO against using its military campaign in Libya for the "political assassination" of Moamer Gaddafi, at the start of talks on the war.
South Africa voted for the UN resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya, which NATO uses to justify its campaign, but in some of his sharpest language yet, Zuma warned the alliance against overstepping its mandate.
"The continuing bombing by NATO and its allies is a concern that has been raised by our committee and by the AU Assembly, because the intention of Resolution 1973 was to protect the Libyan people and facilitate the humanitarian effort," Zuma said, referring to an African Union peace mission on Libya. "On the ground, there is a military stalemate which cannot and must not be allowed to drag on and on - both because of its horrendous cost in civilian lives and the potential it has to destabilise the entire sub-region," he said.