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Libya announces immediate ceasefire

18 march 2011, 20:19
0
UN Security Council vote
UN Security Council vote
Libya announced on Friday an immediate ceasefire in the month-long battle against rebels fighting to overthrow Moamer Kadhafi, saying it was complying with demands from the UN Security Council, AFP reports.

"Libya has decided an immediate ceasefire and an immediate halt to all military operations," Foreign Minister Mussa Kussa said as a coalition of Western and Arab nations geared up to launch air strikes after the UN approved military action to stop Kadhafi from crushing an insurgency.

Kussa said that Libya, as a member of the United Nations, was "obliged to accept the UN Security Council's resolutions."

Meeting on Thursday, the Security Council voted to permit "all necessary measures" to establish a no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire on Kadhafi's military.

Resolution 1973 "demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians."

The ceasefire was derided by the commander of rebels forces, at their bastion in the eastern city of Benghazi, who accused Kadhafi of "bluffing."

Khalifa Heftir told a news conference: "Kadhafi does not speak any truth... All the world knows that Moamer Kadhafi is a liar. He and his sons, and his family, and all those with him are liars."

The ceasefire announcement came only hours after Kadhafi said in an interview on Portuguese television that the council had "no mandate" for such a resolution, "which we absolutely do not recognize."

"This is not a war between two countries that permits the council to intervene," he argued. The UN Charter "does not permit interference in the domestic affairs" of a country.

Meanwhile, NATO said it would discuss Friday what role the alliance may take, and the Arab League said UN chief Ban Ki-moon will attend a high-level meeting of European Union, Arab League and African Union officials in Paris on Saturday.

So far Belgium, Britain, France, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Qatar and the United States have said they will help to enforce the no-fly zone.

French government spokesman Francois Baroin said Friday the strikes will come "rapidly... within a few hours."
The aim would be to "protect the Libyan people and to allow them to go all the way in their drive for freedom, which means bringing down the Kadhafi regime," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons "we will deploy Tornado and Typhoon as well as air-to-air refueling and surveillance aircraft. Preparations to deploy these have already started and in the coming hours they will move to airbases from where they can take the necessary action," he said.

Britain has an airbase on the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus and also has two frigates, HMS Cumberland and HMS Westminster, already in the Mediterranean.

There was no immediate indication of what might be targeted, but last week a source close to Sarkozy said the French president was looking at Kadhafi's Bab al-Azizia command headquarters in Tripoli, a military air base in Sirte, east of Tripoli, and another in Sebha in the south.


By Imed Lamloum


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