Libyan govt accepts AU's peace plan

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tripoli - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has accepted the African Union's "road map" to end conflicts in the country, South African President Jacob Zuma said Sunday.

The road map calls for an immediate cease-fire and opening a political dialogue between the rebels and the government.

Zuma and leaders of several other African countries visited Libya over the weekend to meet Gaddafi on behalf of the African Union to mediate an immediate cease-fire between Libya's government troops and the rebel forces. 

The delegation is also expected to meet with rebel leaders in the eastern city of Benghazi. 

As well as Zuma, the AU delegation includes three other African leaders - Mali's Amadou Toumani Toure, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania and Congo's Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo.

Gaddafi's delegation had accepted the AU's proposals, Zuma said, who has returned to South Africa. Other members of the AU delegation have stayed on to travel west to the rebel-held Benghazi, 1 000km east of Tripoli.

So far, the leaders of the uprising have rejected any ceasefire plan which involves leaving either Gaddafi or his sons in power.

The African mediators were welcomed to Tripoli by Gaddafi supporters holding the veteran Libyan leader's picture and waving the green flags of his regime.

They joined the embattled Gaddafi for a photocall outside the Bedouin tent in his Bab al-Aziziya compound before being driven by minibus to greet a crowd of his supporters and then leaving for an undisclosed destination.

Earlier, the AU mediators reiterated their appeal for "an immediate end to all hostilities" and proposed a transition period to adopt reforms in the insurrection-hit country.

Meanwhile, NATO said it had hit at least 26 regime tanks near Misrata and Ajdabiya.

After destroying 14 tanks around Misrata earlier in the day, warplanes struck more tanks and anti-aircraft guns in the late afternoon, a NATO official said on condition of anonymity.

Near Ajdabiya, alliance aircraft blasted 11 tanks in the morning and struck one more tank and three military vehicles in the evening. The alliance had already taken out 15 tanks near Misrata on Friday and Saturday.

"The pressure continues as NATO strikes go on day and night," the official said.

Earlier, the NATO operation's commander Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard said: "The situation in Ajdabiya, and Misrata in particular, is desperate for those Libyans who are being brutally shelled by the regime.

"To help protect these civilians we continue to strike these forces hard..." he said in a statement.

"We are hitting the regime logistics facilities as well as their heavy weapons because we know Gaddafi is finding it hard to sustain his attacks on civilians."

Western strikes against regime forces began on 19 March under a UN mandate to protect the population after Gaddafi unleashed his security forces to quell pro-democracy protests.

NATO took control of the operation on 31 March. - BuaNews-NNN