Libya regime offers truce -- as long as Gaddafi stays

Libya’s prime minister says the government has asked the United Nations and African Union to prepare and monitor a ceasefire, but ruled out the departure of strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

“We have asked the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) to set a date and specific hours for a ceasefire, to send international observers and take the necessary measures” to end combat, said Baghdadi al-Mahmudi on Thursday.

Earlier, African leaders gathered at a Libya-focused summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa called for an end to Nato air strikes to pave the way for a political solution to the north African nation’s protracted conflict.

But Nato insisted it would keep up its air raids in Libya until Gaddafi’s forces stop attacking civilians and until the regime’s proposed ceasefire was matched by its actions on the ground.

“If the Gaddafi regime is serious about finding a solution, all it needs to do is end its attacks on civilians, withdraw its forces, and permit full, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian aid,” a Nato official said.

Ceasefire
London-based daily the Independent reported on Thursday that the Libyan premier was sending international leaders a message proposing an immediate UN-monitored ceasefire in Libya.

According to a letter seen by the newspaper, Gaddafi’s regime was ready to enter unconditional talks with rebels, declare an amnesty for both sides and draft a new constitution.

The Spanish government confirmed it had received a message to that effect.

The Nato official, however, said the western alliance had received no such request and noted that the Gaddafi regime had made “similar statements” before, only to continue its attacks on civilians.

“Nato will keep up the pressure on the regime until these steps are implemented in a credible, verifiable and sustained way,” he said.

Mahmudi, meanwhile, said previous “ceasefires announced by the regime have not been respected by any of the parties”. This time the government wanted “all sides to stop fighting, especially Nato”.

He ruled out Gaddafi’s ouster.

“Muammar Gaddafi is in the heart of all Libyans. If he goes, they all go,” he said, adding that the leader was “in good health” and operating without any restrictions on his movements.

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