A group of concerned African leaders have issued a statement warning about Africa being re-colonised as Nato continues its support of the Libyan rebels.

Speaking to media in Johannesburg today, leaders released a letter lamenting "misuse of the United Nations Security Council to engage in militarised diplomacy to effect regime change in Libya" and the "marginalisation of the African Union".

University of Johannesburg head of the politics department Professor Chris Landsberg spoke for the group saying Nato has violated international law.

"Nato has empowered itself openly to pursue the objective of regime change and therefore the use of force and all other means to overthrow the government of Libya, which objectives are completely at variance with the decisions of the UN Security Council," Landsberg said.

The letter was signed by more than 200 prominent Africans, including former African National Congress president Thabo Mbeki, Prof Shadrack Gutto of the University of SA, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, Prof Chris Landsberg the head of the Department of Politics at the University of Johannesburg, Prof Mahmood Mamdani from the University of Columbia, former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad, author and poet Dr Wally Serote and many other influential Africans.

Serote says the African Union (AU) Road Map remains the only way to peace for the people of Libya.

"The AU stand for peace, democracy and freedom of all people. This is the role that the AU still wants to play whether you talk about the Ivory Coast, whether you talk about Sudan, whether you want to talk about Libya or whichever of the African country on the continent, the AU stand for that. It has a plan to put in place," Serote said.

Its not clear if the AU leadership approached Libyan rebels or the government for their points of view before making the statement.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule has been teetering on the brink of collapse after months of Nato airstrikes causing most of his forces to flee as rebel forces took control of the capital and the dramatic rebel takeover of his Bab al-Azizya compound yesterday.

Gaddafi himself has remained elusive. He was last seen two months ago.

Libyan rebel fighters celebrated at Green Square, renamed Martyrs Square by rebels, in Tripoli yesterday. REUTERS and

mammburul@bdfm.co.za