Notebook 6 April 2011: Developments in Africa . . .

Former Pennsylvania congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA) leads a small, private delegation to meet with Moammar Gadhafi. Politico reports that congressman Weldon will urge Gadhafi to step down:

“We must engage face-to-face with Colonel Qaddafi and persuade him to leave, as my delegation hopes to do,” writes Weldon, who says he is in Libya at the invitation of Qadhafi’s chief of staff.

“I’ve met him enough times to know that it will be very hard to simply bomb him into submission,” he writes. Weldon first met with Qadhafi as part of a 2004 congressional delegation and has visited Libya twice since then before this visit.

The Obama administration and members of Congress from both parties, he writes, have “knowledge” of the mission. The State Department did not immediately respond to POLITICO’s request for comment.

Also reported on CNN and Jordan Fabian, blogging for The Hill.

In a NYT op-ed filed from Tripoli Weldon writes:

I am back in Libya, this time on a much different mission, as the leader of a small private delegation, at the invitation of Colonel Qaddafi‘s chief of staff and with the knowledge of the Obama administration and members of Congress from both parties. Our purpose is to meet with Colonel Qaddafi today and persuade him to step aside.

::

There is no question that America should play a critical role in helping the Libyans build a new government.

[Note: Other views of “America’s role” indicate some disagreement on this.]

::

Indeed, that’s what we intended to do in Libya. But plans for a coordinated effort between Congress and Libyan legislators to nurture a new generation of Libyan leaders never developed. A plan to bring international nongovernmental organizations into Libya to develop its civil institutions never materialized.

Because both the Bush and Obama administrations failed to follow up on those initial efforts, today we have few contacts in the country’s leadership beyond Colonel Qaddafi himself, and we have no strategic plan for Libya after he leaves.

I’ve a gut feeling that Moammar isn’t the hard case here, but Saif and his brothers? Perhaps. Somehow, the Gadhafi forces demonstrate a little too much energy and determination for me to credit Gadhafi the elder with their direction. Moammar may indeed be edged into retirement, but not in the way we expect.

Just a thought.

Meanwhile, in the Cote d’Ivoire, time has almost run out for Laurent Gbagbo who, according to the Guardian, now rules a bunker in his presidential palace. Ouattara’s militia has evidently captured the rest of the residence.

A French force has moved into Abdijan, and according to Reuters (via the Guardian – see the link above):

A spokeswoman for Ouattara’s forces said Ouattara’s fighters were storming Gbagbo’s residence, where Gbagbo has been holed up since Ouattara’s forces swept into Abidjan backed by helicopter strikes by the United Nations and France.

Fulfilling everyone’s worst fears, Gbagbo has taken stubborn to it’s ultimate, tragic end.

I cannot remember which report this came from last night, but it sent a chill down my spine. A reporter from either CNN International or BBC, reporting on the fighting in Abdijan, closed her report with a sotto voce remark made by an Outtara militiman:

“Now is the time for revenge.”

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