TRIPOLI / PRETORIA: The Libyan government on Sunday renewed its offer to hold a vote on whether Muammar Qaddafi should stay in power, a proposal unlikely to interest Qaddafi’s opponents but which could widen differences inside Nato.
Pressure is growing from some quarters within the alliance to find a political solution, three months into a military campaign which is costing Nato members billions of dollars, has killed civilians, and has so far failed to topple Qaddafi.
Musa Ibrahim, a spokesman for Qaddafi’s administration, told reporters in Tripoli the government was proposing a period of national dialogue and an election overseen by the United Nations and the African Union.
Qaddafi staying in Libya and in power: spokesman
Qaddafi has no intention of leaving power or Libya, despite rebel claims they are expecting a proposal to end the conflict from Tripoli very soon, the government spokesman said on Sunday.
“Qaddafi is here. He is staying. He is leading the country. He will not leave. He will not step down because he does not have any official position,” Musa Ibrahim said when asked about rebel reports that they expect an offer from Qaddafi very soon.
“We will not give in to some criminal gangs who took our cities hostage. We will not give in to the criminal organisation of Nato. Every one continues to fight. We are ready to fight street to street, house to house,” he added.
S Africa’s Zuma warns NATO against Qaddafi ‘assassination’
South African President Jacob Zuma Sunday warned Nato against using its military campaign in Libya for the “political assassination” of Qaddafi, 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.
“The intention was not to authorise a campaign for regime change or political assassination,” he said in opening talks in Pretoria of the AU panel on Libya, according to a text of the speech provided to AFP.
“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.
“The people of Africa want to see an immediate end to the conflict in Libya and the beginning of the process towards a democratic dispensation there,” he said.
Zuma urged both Qaddafi and the rebel’s Transitional National Council (TNC) to make compromises to reach a deal.