An African Union delegation arrived in Benghazi Monday to meet with Libyan rebels about a ceasefire plan accepted by embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi. Rebels have said they would only accept a truce that included Gaddafi’s resignation.
Embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has accepted a roadmap for bringing an end to the standoff in Libya, including an immediate ceasefire, the African Union said Monday. But a representative from the opposition rebels countered that a truce would only work if Gaddafi gave up power.
Meanwhile, delegates from the African Union arrived on Monday in Benghazi, the eastern city that has been the stronghold of the opposition, for talks with the rebels about the deal.
Libyan opposition supporters protested against the AU delegation outside a Benghazi hotel, chanting anti-Gaddafi slogans and waving flags.
The rebels, who have battled pro-Gaddafi forces since the leader’s crackdown on demonstrations in February, have maintained that they will not accept any resolution to the crisis that does not involve the leader stepping down. “The world has seen these offers of ceasefires before and within 15 minutes (Gaddafi) starts shooting again,” rebel spokesman Shamsiddin Abdulmolah told AFP.
Rebels ‘have no choice’
According to FRANCE 24’s Tatiana Massaad in Benghazi, the rebels may have to be flexible on their main demand. “They know that they have no choice,” Massaad said. “They know they have to consider negociations, even if they’re not saying it clearly”.
Massaad reported that conditions on the ground in Benghazi and other parts of the east were “not improving”. “There are more and more victims everyday,” Massaad said. “People say that in one week, they’ll be out of certain food staples and money.”
Meanwhile, South African President Jacob Zuma, whose African Union delegation met Gaddafi in Tripoli on Sunday, asked NATO to suspend its airstrikes so that the ceasefire could take effect. NATO responded that it had “[taken] note” of the ceasefire proposal and “[welcomed] all contributions to the broad international effort aimed at stopping the violence against the civilian population in Libya”.
NATO had stepped up its air strikes over the weekend outside Ajdabiyah, a town near Benghazi, to counter a widespread attack by Gaddafi forces on Saturday. The insurgents, who have criticised the NATO operation as not decisive enough in its protection of Libyan civilians, praised the move.
Date created : 2011-04-11