Gaddafi loyalists reject rebels’ ultimatum, reiterate offer to have leader’s son Saadi negotiate and form a transitional government.
TRIPOLI – Libya’s interim leadership has rejected the idea of deploying any kind of international military force, the UN envoy to the country has said, according to the BBC. Ian Martin said the UN had considered the deployment of military observers. Earlier, the chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC) said the country did not need outside help to maintain security.
The news came as fighters loyal to the council approached the pro-Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte from east and west. The city’s defenders have been given until Saturday to surrender. However, fugitive ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi’s spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, rejected the ultimatum. “No dignified honourable nation would accept an ultimatum from armed gangs,” he said. Ibrahim reiterated Col Gaddafi’s offer to send his son Saadi to negotiate with rebels and form a transitional government.
Libya’s deputy representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told the BBC that the situation in Libya was unique. “They [the UN] put the possibility of deploying peacekeepers on the ground but in fact the Libyan crisis is a special case. It is not a civil war, it is not a conflict between two parties, it is the people who are defending themselves against the dictatorship.”
However, Martin said the UN did expect to be asked to help establish a police force. “We don’t now expect military observers to be requested,” he said after a meeting of the UN Security Council. “It’s very clear that the Libyans want to avoid any kind of military deployment of the UN or others,” he said. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that growing humanitarian shortages in Libya demand urgent action and appealed to the security council to be “responsive” to requests from the transitional authority for funding.
Meanwhile, Libyan rebels expressed fresh optimism that Gaddafi’s reign is about to crumble. “I think this thug, this killer knows that he has nowhere to go,” said Ali Tarhouni, finance and oil minister for the opposition’s National Transitional Council.
Tarhouni said he expects Gaddafi’s four-decade rule to fall apart within a week. “I really have no problem with waiting another week,” he said Tuesday. “I’ve waited 42 years.”
But Gaddafi’s whereabouts are still unconfirmed, 11 days after opposition forces stormed the capital and later captured his Tripoli compound. Rebels now have their sights set on the remaining bastions in Libya under Gaddafi’s control, including his hometown of Sirte.