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Tue 29 Mar 2011 09:10 PM

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Qatar's PM urges Gaddafi to step down

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani says Libyan leader might only have a few days to negotiate exit

Qatar's PM urges Gaddafi to step down
Qatars Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani. (AFP/Getty Images)
Qatar's PM urges Gaddafi to step down
Muammar Gaddafi. (Getty Images)

Qatar's Prime Minister urged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Tuesday to step down to halt bloodshed and said that he might only have a few days to negotiate an exit.

"We urge Gaddafi and his people to leave," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani told a news conference.

"I think this is the only solution to sort this problem as soon as possible. Right now we don't see any indication of that. But this hope which we offer now might not be on the table after a few days. I'm not warning anybody here, but I am trying to stop the bloodshed as soon as possible," he added.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told a final news

conference that while Britain was not engaged in efforts to find

somewhere for Gaddafi to go, others were free to do so.

Rebels fighting Gaddafi promised to build a free, democratic

state if they won power in Tripoli.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, opening a conference

of 40 governments and international bodies, accused Gaddafi's

supporters of conducting "murderous attacks" on people in

Misrata, Libya's third largest city.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that coalition

military strikes on Libya would continue until Gaddafi fully

complied with UN demands to cease violence against civilians

and pull forces out of occupied cities.

"All of us must continue to increase the pressure on and

deepen the isolation of the Gaddafi regime through other means

as well," Clinton said.

"This includes a unified front of political and diplomatic

pressure that makes clear to Gaddafi that he must go."

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said

on ABC television that Washington had not ruled out arming the

rebels, although no such decision had been made yet.

US officials say a UN Security Council resolution

adopted this month would allow arming the rebels, but an Italian

diplomatic source said any such move would require a new

resolution backed by a broader international consensus.

Mahmoud Shammam, a spokesman for the rebels in London, told

Reuters: "We don't have arms at all otherwise we would finish

Gaddafi in a few days ... We are asking for political support

more than we are asking for arms, but if we get both that would

be great."

On Libya's coastal strip, focus of fighting, Gaddafi's

better armed troops appeared to be reversing a recent westward

charge by rebels who had taken advantage of coalition air

strikes to seize a string of towns over the last week.

Gaddafi accused Western powers of massacres of Libyan

civilians in alliance with rebels he said were al Qaeda members.

Before the London conference, called to discuss current

action against the Tripoli government and a post-Gaddafi era,

the interim rebel National Council held out the prospect of a

"modern, free and united state" if Gaddafi could be ousted.

Mahmoud Jebril, a leader of the Benghazi-based National

Council, was in London for meetings with Cameron and Clinton,

although the opposition did not attend the conference.

An eight-point Council statement said the oil-producing

north African nation's economy would be used for the benefit of

all Libyans. It also said it would draft a national constitution

allowing the formation of political parties and trades unions.

Its commitments included guaranteeing "every Libyan citizen,

of statutory age, the right to vote in free and fair

parliamentary elections and presidential elections, as well as

the right to run for office."

The United States said it had appointed veteran diplomat

Chris Stevens as envoy to the interim administration in Benghazi

and he would go there soon. France already has a special envoy

on the ground liaising with the rebel leadership.

With Gaddafi loyalists pushing back against the rebels,

Italy, the former colonial power in Libya, has put forward a

proposal for a political deal to end the crisis. It features a

quick ceasefire, exile for Gaddafi and dialogue between rebels

and tribal leaders.

"There is a tacit agreement among everybody that the best

thing would be for Gaddafi to go into exile, because the reason

for continuing the war is the presence of Gaddafi," the Italian

source said.

He added that the African Union, which stayed away from

Tuesday's meeting to underline its neutrality, was the only body

that could persuade Gaddafi to go into exile.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also implied exile

might be a way to take Gaddafi out of the picture and settle the

six-week-old uprising against his four-decade rule.

"We want him to leave power and that's what we've

consistently said to the Libyan regime. We are not in control,

of course, of where he might go," Hague told the BBC, but he

said Gaddafi should face the International Criminal Court.

Muslim NATO member Turkey, which initially opposed military

action, wants a rapid ceasefire and a negotiated solution.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attended the London

conference after Turkey was not invited to the first meeting of

the international coalition in Paris 10 days ago.

Some diplomats and analysts have suggested offering Gaddafi

immunity from ICC prosecution and safe passage to a host country

could be an incentive for him to go quickly.

Britain and France led the push for a muscular intervention

in the Libyan conflict and coalition air strikes have helped

rebels in the east of the country to advance; but questions

remain about the end game in Libya.

The United States has borne the brunt of military strikes so

far but President Barack Obama announced on Monday that it would

scale down involvement within days as the NATO defence alliance

takes over full command of the operation.

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Sarojini Rajapaksha 9 years ago

NATO STAY AWAY FROM LIBYA DO NOT RUIN THAT COUNTRY. DO NOT LET THE ANIMALS LOOSE. THE ANIMALS HAVE TO BE DISCIPLINED LET COL. GHADDAFI DO HIS JOB OF TAMING THESE ANIMALS.

gordon 9 years ago

wow that comment is self explanatory..one should forget that he has terrorised, tortured and stole the money from his people from the day he took over.

The people want freedom and to get rid of him and his cohorts. He wants to kill everyone who gets in his way, or even possibly get in his way.

One of my friends said something negative about him 15 years ago. You want to see his scars? both mental and physical?

Najib 9 years ago

Sarojini are living on this planet or viewing it from Mars.
Get real, The animal you describe has been dressed in a Colonel's uniform for decades, parades around like a peacock and starves his people from a decent standard of living that he only allows his close family to enjoy. One would describe him as a self indulgent dictator who squashes anyone who dares to challenge his actions and his behaviour.

If he had any self respect and gave his people a fair go he would not be facing his inevitable termination. Unfortunately he doesn't know and it seems nor do you, or doesn't want to, keep his country in a peaceful transition where his own useby date passed when Pan Am fell on Lockerbie.

And by the way, NATO is not ruining the country that started when he decided it was easier to kill his own people than understand what he could do to help them.