Libya proposes cease-fire
By Essam Mohamed for Magharebia in Tripoli – 27/05/11
The US and France on Friday (May 27th) rejected the Libyan government's cease-fire offer, vowing to "finish the job".
"Meeting the UN mandate of civilian protection cannot be accomplished when Kadhafi remains in Libya, directing his forces in acts of aggression against the Libyan people," US President Barack Obama told reporters on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Deauville, France.
Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmudi on Thursday held a press conference in Tripoli, where he said that "the time had come for serious negotiations".
"Libya is serious about a cease-fire. But that means a halt for all parties, in particular NATO," Al-Mahmudi said. "Any cease-fire needs its own special arrangements between technical and military people. Everything will be discussed once we have a cease-fire." Al-Baghdadi said that Libya "looks forward to better relations" with the US and wants these relations to be "based on mutual respect".
The conference came in response to Western leaders' repeated calls for Moamer Kadhafi to resign. Obama on Wednesday predicted that Kadhafi would be forced to step down if NATO keeps up its military campaign and vowed "no let-up in the pressure" on Libya's defiant leader.
Responding to these remarks, Al-Mahmudi said that "these words come from someone who doesn't know how Libya is governed".
"Kadhafi is the leader of Libyan people, and he's the one to decide what the Libyan people want," he maintained. "He's in the heart of every Libyan. If Kadhafi leaves, the people will leave, and the people's committees will also leave."
He invited the United Nations and the African Union to set the date for a cease-fire and to send in international observers.
When asked about the Libya rebels, he said: "We hold them responsible for what's happening in Libya.... They are the ones who refused to hold talks. As a state, Libya is prepared to hold talks with popular leaders that represent all of Libya. We welcome anyone in this regard, and they have the right to be at the round-table"
"Kadhafi is not accountable before the Libyan people because he doesn't head the executive body," he argued. "Therefore, Libyans should hold to account those people's committees, including the members who joined the National Transitional Council in Benghazi and also including myself."
The Libyan prime minister tried to dispel rumours about Kadhafi's health, saying that "he's in good health and attending to his duties in a perfectly good physical condition".
The statements, however, failed to resonate not only in the international community but among Libyans themselves.
"These are all lies and an attempt to gain time," journalist Youssef Ali told Magharebia. "If he wants a cease-fire, he must first stop bombarding Yefren, Zintan and Misrata. There is no credibility in these words. NATO will go for a cease-fire if they [Libyan forces] stop their bombardment. NATO is just trying to protect civilians."
"If NATO leaves, Libyans will be annihilated," said analyst Salem Mohamed. "This is the trick that the regime has always depended on."
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