Friday, 18 March 2011

Libya declares an immediate ceasefire

Libya has declared an immediate ceasefire after UN Security Council backed a no-fly zone over the country; the resolution also gave UN members permission to take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians. Anti-government protesters in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi greeted the news of UN's resolution with cheers and celebratory fireworks.

Libya's Foreign Minister Musa Kusa said the ceasefire was intended "to protect civilians". The announcement came amid heavy fighting between Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi loyalists and rebels.

UN Security Council Resolution 1973 gave broad backing to taking military action against all threats to civilians. Speaking about the resolutions, President of the Justice and Democracy Party of Libya Hadi Shalluf said the anti-government protesters would welcome UN peacekeepers in Libya to help enforce the no-fly zone on the ground. Shalluf said: “All the Libyans now, they are very, very happy even as this resolution is coming very, very late. But we are really glad and then happy. Today, just now in Benghazi where the people go outside singing, and then dancing, and are very, very happy about this resolution.”

Shalluf also thanked both the US and France for their part in making the no-fly zone resolution possible, adding “We would like to say thank you to Mr Obama and then we would like to say thank you to Mr Sarkozy and Mr. (Alain) Juppe, the French president and foreign minister about what they did for the Libyan people.”

Speaking shortly after Libya declared ceasefire, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain would judge Qadhafi "by his actions not his words". He added: “What is absolutely clear is the UN Security Council resolution said he must stop what he is doing, brutalising his people. If not, all necessary measures can follow to make him stop…That is what we agreed last night, that is what we are preparing for and we'll judge him by what he does."

Sources: BBC News, Voice of America, Reuters, New York Times

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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