Explosions rock Tripoli amid ceasefire

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pretoria - Strong explosions continued to tear through the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Monday night, despite Libya announcing a ceasefire following Western powers' devastating strikes against it.

Anti-craft gunfire could be heard in the city and smoke rose near Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's residence.

It was the third night that the city was hit and coalition forces said they were aiming at strategic targets. 

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution last Thursday to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and authorize all necessary measures, excluding ground troops, to safeguard Libyan civilians.

A number of Western powers including France, Britain, the United States, Denmark and Italy have launched a string of air strikes on Libyan targets since Saturday.

But President Jacob Zuma said he was against the military intervention by western powers and urged UN members not to go beyond the agreement to enforce a no-fly zone. 

Zuma, who was speaking during the Human Rights Day celebrations in Cape Town on Monday, cautioned that a peaceful and political solution, based on the will of the Libyan people, would guarantee long term stability in the North African country. 

"As South Africa we say no to the killing of civilians, no to the regime change doctrine and no to the foreign occupation of Libya or any other sovereign state," Zuma said.

"We call for an immediate ceasefire in Libya and an end to attacks on civilians. Operations aimed at enforcing the 'no fly zone' and protecting civilians should be limited to just that. They should not harm or endanger the civilians that Resolution 1973 sought to protect," Zuma said.

He said there should be no foreign occupation of Libya or any other sovereign state.

Other countries have blasted the ongoing military operation against Libyan government forces, saying the air raids went beyond the UN resolution and must be scrapped immediately.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin severely criticized the US' role in the "Odyssey Dawn" operation against Libya.

"The use of force against other countries became a steady trend in the US policy," Putin noted, adding this trend was "disturbing."

He also said the UN resolution "is, surely, flawed and lame...as it allows intervention in a sovereign country".

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has also said the UN resolution has been manipulated in order to bombard Libya. "The West is bombarding Libya and they are doing it in a callous way. They don't care who dies and actually they want Gaddafi to die," he told reporters.

Bolivian President Evo Morales told a press conference that it was unaccepted that the Western coalition, under the pretext of protecting Libyan civilians, bombed and destroyed the country.

He described the intervention as "a crime, an assault and an aggression."