Libya Offers Truce to UN in Return for NATO Cease-fire
VOA News May 15, 2011
Libya's prime minister has offered a truce to a visiting United Nations envoy in return for an immediate NATO cease-fire.
Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi made the comments in Tripoli Sunday following a meeting with U.N. special envoy Abdul Ilah Khatib. Soon after Khatib arrived, Libya's state television reported that a new NATO airstrike hit the western city of Zuwara, near the Tunisian border.
The head of Britain's armed forces, General David Richards, told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper there is a risk the conflict could result in Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi clinging to power if NATO does not "up the ante." He said NATO is not attacking infrastructure targets in Libya, but needs to consider intensifying its military action.
Restrictions imposed by NATO members allow its forces to attack only targets that pose a direct threat to Libyan civilians. Libyan officials have accused NATO of violating that mandate by launching attacks aimed at killing Mr. Gadhafi.
Also Sunday, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said his investigation into crimes against humanity by senior members of the Libyan government is "almost ready for trial." Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he will file a 74-page document outlining allegations that Libyan forces have systematically attacked civilians since launching a brutal crackdown on anti-government rebels in February.
Western media reports say Moreno-Ocampo is expected to announce Monday that he is seeking warrants for the killing of civilian protesters, with Mr. Gadhafi and two of his sons as likely indictees. Judges will study the evidence presented before deciding whether to issue arrest warrants for the suspects, a process likely to take weeks.
Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim dismissed the ICC's efforts, calling them "questionable."
Earlier Sunday, Libyan rebels said they have taken full control of the western port city of Misrata. But opposition spokesmen said the rebels are braced for renewed attacks by forces loyal to Mr. Gadhafi.
In neighboring Tunisia, security forces arrested two suspected al-Qaida members near the Libyan border. Tunisian officials said the two were carrying an explosives belt, several bombs and led authorities to a weapons stash in the southern mountains. The men are thought to be members of al-Qaida's North African branch.
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb grew out of an Islamist insurgency movement in Algeria, merging with al-Qaida in 2006 and spreading through the Sahara and the Sahel region. It has been responsible for a series of kidnappings and attacks across northern Africa in recent years.
The group is one al-Qaida's largest regional branches.
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