Friday, 1 April 2011

Libyan rebels concede to a ceasefire

Following news that seven civilians died and 25 were injured in a coalition air strike on a pro-Qadhafi convoy, a Libyan opposition leader, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, said the rebels will accept a UN-demanded ceasefire if Qadhafi withdraws his forces from all the cities and concedes to peaceful protests.

Speaking at a conference in Benghazi, Abdul-Jalil said: "We agree on a ceasefire on the condition that our brothers in the western cities have freedom of expression and also that the forces that are besieging the cities withdraw.”

During the conference, also attended by UN envoy Abdelilah Al-Khatib, visiting the rebels' de-facto stronghold in hope of reaching a resolution, Abdul-Jalil said a ceasefire would been agreed on the condition that “Qadhafi's brigades and forces withdraw from inside and outside Libyan cities”. He added that in doing so the world would see that the Libyan people would “choose freedom" rather than remain under the regime.

The offer was made from a position of power, as the rebels seem to be better organized and better armed than ever. For most of this week, Qadhafi's forces have been trying to push the rebels back about 100 miles along the coast, prompting them to regroup and form a new strategy.

Another Libyan opposition leader, Ali Tarhouni, said the rebels had negotiated a deal with Qatar to supply oil, they control in parts of south-eastern Libya, in exchange for money for weapons and ammunition. Tarhouni did not say when the deal was agreed.

Amid talks of further defections, following that of Libya's Foreign Minister Musa Kusa, Libya's Chief of Intelligence Bouzeid Dorda dismissed rumours that he was planning to abandon Libya. In a statement aired on Libya's State television, Dorda said: "I am in Libya and will remain here steadfast in the same camp of the revolution despite everything. I never thought to cross the borders or violate commitment to the people, the revolution and the leader."

Oil Minister Shukri Ghanim has denied similar rumours, saying: "I am in Tripoli working in my office... I am trying my best to keep this oil industry as one industry, trying to minimise the damage that is happening to the installation, trying to secure the safety of the staff and the personnel [and] trying to prevent the looting of the industry."

Sources: BBC News, AP, Bloomberg

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

No comments:

Post a Comment