After a meeting with Moammar Gadhafi on Monday, South African President Jacob Zuma said the embattled Libyan leader was ready to sign an African Union ceasefire proposal, but unwilling to step down. Pro-democracy rebels promptly rejected the offer, and said they wouldn't stop fighting as long as Gadhafi remains in power. Are Zuma and other African leaders wasting their time, or can they broker a peace deal? (Watch an Al Jazeera report about Zuma's visit.)
It's a longshot, but worth trying: "Talking is always preferable to bombing," says David Dayen at Firedoglake. Five of Gadhafi's generals just defected, and his army is reportedly down to 20 percent of its pre-war capacity. With Gadhafi weakening, "perhaps at this point, with little beyond a stalemate on the military horizon, an agreement can be struck." And if the African Union ends up brokering the deal, all the better.
"South African President Zuma goes to Tripoli to mediate resolution to Libya crisis"
Gadhafi's stubbornness trumps Zuma's optimism: "It wasn't too far fetched to hope that Zuma might be a global point man in resolving the Libyan crisis," says Nicole Fritz at the South African Liberation Center. "Sadly he's home without even the suggestion that he might have secured peace." If the African Union wants to find a diplomatic solution in Libya, it will have to come up with some new ideas to overcome "the obduracy of Gadhafi."
"Zuma: No diplomatic coup in Libya"
If anyone can do it, Zuma can: "It is time for Africans to take care of African problems," says Alex Perry at TIME. In Libya, that's also the only remaining formula for a diplomatic resolution after three months of civil war. NATO's military operation has failed to force Gadhafi out. But "he is still talking to Zuma — which is more than can be said of leaders in either Europe or the U.S."
"Can Zuma pull off a surprise in Libya?"