Monday, April 11, 2011

Libya's opposition snubs AU truce plan

Opposition fighters ride on the back of a pickup truck with a mounted gun near Ajdabiyah on April 11, 2011.

Source: Press TV

Libya's revolutionary National Council has strongly rejected a peace plan proposed by the African Union, demanding an immediate ouster of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

It comes as members of a mediating delegation from the African Union (AU) arrived in the eastern city of Benghazi to meet with the opposition leaders.

The anti-government forces insisted any deal designed to keep Gaddafi or his sons in place would be unacceptable. Government officials, however, say Gaddafi will not step down.

"This [African Union] initiative has now been surpassed. From the first day the demand of our people have been the ouster of Gaddafi and the fall of his regime," opposition leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said at a Monday news conference in opposition stronghold Benghazi.

"Therefore any initiative that does not include this people's demand, popular demand, essential demand, we cannot possibly recognize."

The revolutionary council, headed by Libya's former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil, plans to lead the country to an election.

Jalil was among the first high-profile Libyan figures to join protesters following Gaddafi regime's brutal crackdown on the opposition.

Earlier, the government accepted the AU roadmap for an end to the war in Libya. The high-level delegation held talks with Gaddafi and his senior officials in the capital, Tripoli, on Sunday.

The peace plan includes an immediate ceasefire and national dialogue as well as addressing humanitarian issues.

Revolutionary forces say any ceasefire will require the right to freedom of expression and the withdrawal of regime troops from the streets.

Meanwhile, the Western coalition says it has destroyed over 20 tanks belonging to forces loyal to Gaddafi over the past 24 hours.

The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, has warned that children as young as nine months are dying in the Libyan port city of Misratah due to indiscriminate shelling.

A UNICEF spokesman said more and more children in Misratah are being killed, injured and denied essential medical care.

The international body also asked all parties involved in the conflict to halt the siege of the city.

The Libyan city of Misratah has been the scene of heavy bombardments for more than a month now, with fighting reaching its central parts.

Revolutionary forces criticize NATO for its failure to prevent the killing of civilians by Gaddafi troops. The Western coalition unleashed a major air campaign against regime forces on March 19 under a UN mandate to protect the Libyan population.

Revolutionaries have recently threatened to ask the United Nations Security Council to suspend the NATO mission in Libya if the military alliance fails to do "its work properly."

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