04/11/2011, 00.00
LIBYA
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Gaddafi accepts African Union peace plan

The plan calls for an immediate ceasefire, the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid, protection of foreign nationals, and a dialogue between the government and rebels. It does not however convince the rebels and NATO who call for a pullback of the colonel’s forces and greater guarantees.
Tripoli (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mediation by the African Union (AU) between the Libyan government and rebels appears to be bearing some fruit. According to South African President Jacob Zuma, Gaddafi has accepted an African Union peace plan to end the eight-week-old conflict.

The meeting between the Libyan leader and the AU delegation took place in Bab al-Aziziya. In addition to Zuma, the African delegation included the presidents of Mali, Mauritania and Congo, as well as Ugandan Foreign Minister Henry Oryem Okello.

Today, the delegation travelled to Benghazi for talks with rebel leaders.

The AU plan calls for an immediate ceasefire, the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid, protection of foreign nationals, and a dialogue between the government and rebels on a political settlement.

However, rebels have already voiced concerns about the plan. A spokesman said that no ceasefire will be agreed unless Gaddafi’s forces do not pull back and freedom of expression is respected.

The plan also envisages a stop to NATO air strikes, but the military alliance’s Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that any “ceasefire must be credible and verifiable”. 

The plan also does not say whether Gaddafi stays in power or not. Ramtane Lamamra, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, said the issue had come up in the talks but declined to give details. “There was some discussion on this but I cannot report on this. It has to remain confidential.”

It is up to the Libyan people to choose their leaders democratically, Lamara added. 

Mgr Martinelli, apostolic vicar to Tripoli, had repeatedly called for the AU to intervene (see “Sirte, eight civilians killed during airstrikes. Apostolic vicar: "Pray for Libya",” in AsiaNews, 2 April 2011).

NATO and the international community had not brought in the African Union on previous occasions. No AU delegate took part in the London conference on 29 March that officially transferred the ‘Odyssey Dawn’ mission to NATO.

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