Leave in 72 hours, opposition tells Gaddafi

March 9, 2011 - 0:0

Opposition forces will not pursue Muammar Gaddafi over crimes he has committed if the Libyan leader steps down from his post in the next 72 hours, the head of the rebel National Libyan Council said on Tuesday.

“If he leaves Libya immediately, during 72 hours, and stops the bombardment, we as Libyans will step back from pursuing him for crimes,” Abdel Jalil Mustapha, head of the opposition National Council, told Al Jazeera.
He said the deadline would not be extended beyond 72 hours.
“Based on our love for our country we have proposed to the (Gaddafi's) indirect negotiators that a solution can be reached,” Mustapha told Al Jazeera.
“Conditions are that firstly he stops all combat in the fields, secondly that his departure is within 72 hours; thirdly we may waive our right of domestic prosecution… for the crimes of oppression, persecution, starvation and massacres.
“We will have to wait and see what the regime's response is.”
Libyan state television on Tuesday denied reports that the Libyan leader tried to strike a deal with opposition forces seeking his removal. An official from the Libyan foreign ministry described the reports as “absolute nonsense”.
However, a spokesman for the opposition National Council in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi confirmed that a representative had sought to negotiate Gaddafi's exit.
Gaddafi was reported to have sent a representative to Benghazi on Sunday night to discuss a conditional plan to step down, Al Jazeera learned. The offer was provided on the condition that Gaddafi would be able to keep his assets and avoid prosecution.
The Libyan leader is said to be willing to step down in return for dropping war crimes charges against him and guaranteeing a safe exit for him and his family. He also reportedly wants guarantees from the UN that he will be allowed to keep his money.
Appeal for dialogue
On Monday evening, a leading member of the government appealed to rebel leaders for dialogue, another sign that Gaddafi may be ready to compromise with opponents challenging his rule.
Jadallah Azous Al-Talhi, a Libyan prime minister in the 1980s, appeared on state television on Monday reading an address to elders in Benghazi, asking them to “give a chance to national dialogue to resolve this crisis, to help stop the bloodshed, and not give a chance to foreigners to come and capture our country again”.
The appeal did not detail any concessions that Gaddafi's administration would be prepared to make. The rebels said they will settle for nothing less than an end to Gaddafi's four decades in power.
The fact that Al-Talhi's appeal was broadcast on tightly-controlled state television indicated that it was officially endorsed.
Until now Gaddafi and his entourage have shown little public appetite for dialogue, describing the rebels as armed youths under the influence of drugs who have been manipulated by Al-Qaeda and foreign powers.
OIC rejects military action on Libya
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on Tuesday rejected any foreign military intervention in Libya.
At the start of an OIC emergency meeting on Libya in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Ihsanoglu rejected “any military interference (on the ground) in Libya.”
He warned of an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country and called on the Libyan authorities to “immediately allow the entrance of humanitarian aid” to the country, AFP reported.
Ihsanoglu also pointed out that the UN Security Council should enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.
“We join our voice to the voices asking for a no-fly zone in Libya, and we call on the Security Council to do its duty in this regard,” he said.
The six-nation Persian Gulf Cooperation Council has already backed a no-fly zone to prevent airstrikes against the Libyan anti-regime protesters.
NATO starts 24/7 surveillance
Meanwhile, NATO has launched around-the-clock surveillance flights of Libya as it considers various options for dealing with escalating violence in the country, America's ambassador to the organization told reporters Monday.
Representatives of key Western powers also highlighted the possibility of establishing a no-fly zone in Libya, CNN reported.
British, French and U.S. officials were working on a draft text that includes language on a no-fly zone, diplomatic sources at the United Nations told CNN.
The language in the text will deal with triggers rather than timelines for taking such a step, one diplomat noted. If gross violations of human rights are committed, the diplomat added, the elements of the text could be quickly turned into a resolution.
Any resolution on military intervention in Libya, however, would be subject to a vote by the 15 members of the UN Security Council. Such intervention could face sharp criticism from Russia and China, who rarely approve of such measures.
Photo: An opposition fighter fires his rifle at a military aircraft loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at a checkpoint in Ras Lanuf on March 7, 2011. (Reuters photo)