Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Gaddafi calls for truce, but on his own terms

Muammar Gaddafi is ready for a truce to stop the fighting in his country, South African President Jacob Zuma said on Monday after meeting the Libyan ruler, but he listed familiar Gaddafi conditions that have scuttled previous ceasefire efforts. Rebels quickly rejected the offer.

Zuma, said Gaddafi is ready to accept an African Union initiative for a ceasefire that would stop all hostilities, including Nato airstrikes in support of rebel forces. “He is ready to implement the road map,” Zuma said.

Zuma said Gaddafi insists that “all Libyan be given a chance to talk among themselves” to determine the country’s future. He did not say Gaddafi is ready to step down, which is the central demand of the rebels. He was speaking to reporters from South African and Libyan TV, which broadcast his remarks late on Monday.

In April, Zuma led a delegation of the African Union to Tripoli with an African Union proposal for a truce. Gaddafi said he would accept the truce but quickly ignored it and resumed his attacks, while the rebels rejected the ceasefire out of hand because it did not include Gaddafi’s exit from power. Since then many ceasefire efforts have failed for similar reasons.

In Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital, rebel Foreign Minister Fathi Baja rejected the African Union plan. “We refuse completely, we don’t consider it a political initiative, it is only some stuff that Gaddafi wants to announce to stay in power,” he told the Associated Press.

He said he believes Zuma is in Tripoli to negotiate an exit strategy for Gaddafi, though Zuma’s office denies that. Baja also said the rebels would launch an offensive against Gaddafi soon.

For decades Gaddafi has identified Libya as an African as much as an Arab nation. He disbursed millions of dollars in aid to African nations and built himself up as a leader of the continent.

Zuma was greeted with all the requisite fanfare by Gaddafi’s beleaguered regime. Dozens of Gaddafi supporters, bused in for the welcoming, waved green Libyan flags and chanted slogans denouncing the Nato bombing campaign against Libyan government targets.

Nato temporarily lifted its no-fly zone over Libya to allow Zuma’s South African Air Force plane to land at the main military air base next to Tripoli.

Loss of support
In Rome on Monday, an indication that Gaddafi’s regime is losing support came from eight top Libyan army officers, including five generals, who defected from Gaddafi’s military. They appealed to their fellow officers to join the revolt.

Several senior officials, including at least three Cabinet ministers, have abandoned Gaddafi during the uprising that began in February. Even so, he clings tenaciously to power, and the military units still loyal to him are far superior to the forces available to the rebels.

One of the officers, General Melud Massoud Halasa, estimated that Gaddafi’s military forces are now “only 20% as effective” as what they were before the revolt broke out in mid-February, and that “not more than 10” generals remain loyal to Gaddafi.

An anti-government activist based in Tripoli said that dozens of residents angrily chanted against Gaddafi’s rule in a rare demonstration in the Libyan capital on Monday. His claims could not be confirmed because of restrictions placed on reporters in Tripoli. The activist sent reporters a YouTube video showing the men chanting, “There is only one God and Muammar [Gaddafi] is his enemy.” The timing and authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed.

The Zuma visit came during relentless Nato bombing runs on Tripoli and other parts of the country, aimed at weakening Gaddafi’s military and giving the outgunned rebels a chance in their battle against the longtime ruler.

Though relations between Gaddafi and the African Union have been strained, Zuma has joined other African leaders in accusing Nato of overstepping its UN mandate to protect Libyan civilians and calling for an end to the airstrikes.

Zuma’s meeting with Gaddafi at his Bab al-Aziziyah compound was attended by only two other people, according to a Libyan official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not at liberty to discuss the talks. – Sapa-AP

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

R270m ‘housing heist’ bid deprives people of decent homes

After alleged attempts to loot Eastern Cape housing funds, 39 200 people in the province will continue to live in atrocious conditions

Cabinet reshuffle not on cards yet

There are calls for the president to act against ministers said to be responsible for the state’s slow response to the unrest, but his hands are tied

More top stories

R270m ‘housing heist’ bid deprives people of decent homes

After alleged attempts to loot Eastern Cape housing funds, 39 200 people in the province will continue to live in atrocious conditions

Stolen ammo poses security threat amid failure to protect high-risk...

A Durban depot container with 1.5-million rounds of ammunition may have been targeted, as others in the vicinity were left untouched, say security sources

Sierra Leoneans want a share of mining profits, or they...

The arrival of a Chinese gold mining company in Kono, a diamond-rich district in the east of Sierra Leone, had a devastating impact on the local community, cutting its water supply and threatening farmers’ livelihoods – and their attempts to seek justice have been frustrated at every turn

IEC to ask the courts to postpone local elections

The chairperson of the Electoral Commission of South Africa said the Moseneke inquiry found that the elections would not be free and fair if held in October
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×