Nato rejects Libya peace plan — again

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

SOUTH AFRICA has called for an immediate ceasefire in Libya after lengthy talks between the South African president and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. But Russia has abandoned its attempt to pose as an honest broker in the civil war and has now joined the imperialist chorus clamouring for Gaddafi to go, following the G-8 summit where it received western pledges to support Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organisation and French agreement to sell them four Mistral-class helicopter carriers.

Libya has accepted the latest African Union proposals to end the conflict following top level talks between South African President Jacob Zuma and Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli on Monday.

But Nato bombing, suspended for 72 hours to allow the talks to proceed, has now resumed with renewed ferocity and the imperialist-backed rebels have rejected the plan because it does not provide for the departure of Gaddafi and his family.

South African President Jacob Zuma returned to Pretoria on Tuesday to tell the media that Gaddafi is ready to carry out an African Union (AU) road map for resolving the crisis in the North African country. The high-level AU committee on Libya proposed a five-point road map for peace, calling on conflicting parties in Libya to protect civilians, stop hostilities and provide humanitarian aid equally to both Libyans and immigrants.

The African Union committee also called for political dialogue to end the crisis, a transitional period and necessary political reforms to meet the demands of the Libyan people.

Rejecting imperialist demands to step down Gaddafi told Zuma that he was not prepared to leave his country, despite the difficulties. But the Libyan leader accepted “the importance of the ceasefire proposed by the AU on condition that Nato stop the bombings and give the Libyan people a chance to solve their problems by themselves.

“In the Libyan capital government spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim said that their leader was determined to fight on. “Who are you to say the Libyans cannot choose Muammar Gaddafi? We will never give in.”

The Libyan people’s “love for the leader” had imbued “thousands and thousands” of Libyans with a will to resist Nato and the rebels who had taken control of much of eastern Libya he declared saying: “When it comes down to it we will all take our guns and fight.”

The Libyan government said on Tuesday that the Nato air strikes had so far cost the lives of 718 civilians and wounded more than 4,000. Now the Libyans are bracing themselves for the entry of British and French helicopter gunships in support of the rebels and the use of bunker-busting bombs on alleged military compounds in the Tripoli and the other cities controlled by loyalist forces. Though Nato controls the skies over Libya it has still not been able to break the four month stalemate on the ground. The rebels control the east of Libya around the city of Benghazi, the besieged enclave around the city of Misrata in the west, and a mountain range stretching from the town of Zintan, 150 km south of Tripoli, towards the border with Tunisia. But the rebels have been unable to break out of their strongholds and advance towards the capital.