x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Libya offers immediate ceasefire following UN air strike vote

The pledge to halt all military operations by the Libyan foreign minister contradicts earlier defiance by Moammar Qaddafi that the United Nations had "no mandate" to intervene.

TRIPOLI // Libya will halt all military operations immediately in compliance with a newly adopted UN Security Council resolution, Foreign Minister Mussa Kussa said in Tripoli on Friday.

"Libya has decided an immediate ceasefire and an immediate halt to all military operations," Kussa told a press conference.

He said that, because Libya is a member of the United Nations, it is "obliged to accept the UN Security Council's resolutions."

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Middle East unrest

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The announcement came as a coalition of Western nations geared up Friday to launch quick air strikes on Libya to stop Moamer Qaddafi from crushing an insurgency.

It also came after Qaddafi said in an interview aired on Portuguese state television that the Security Council had "no mandate" for such a resolution, "which we absolutely do not recognise."

"This is not a war between two countries that permits the council to intervene," he argued. The UN Charter "does not permit interference in the domestic affairs" of a country.

Meeting on Thursday, the UN Security Council voted to permit "all necessary measures" to establish a no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire on Qaddafi's military.

Five countries on the 15-strong council abstained, including permanent members China and Russia, who did not use their veto power. India and Brazil also abstained in addition to Germany.

Resolution 1973 outlines the "responsibility of the Libyan authorities to protect the Libyan population" and stresses the regime bears the responsibility to "take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians."

So far Britain, France, the United States, Norway and Qatar are among the countries that have said they will help to enforce the no-fly zone, while China, Germany, Poland, Australia and Russia have indicated they will not.

"Preparations to deploy these have already started and in the coming hours they will move to airbases from where they can take the necessary action," Cameron told his parliament.

Britain has two frigates already in the Mediterranean and an airbase on Cyprus which could be used to launch attacks.

The strikes will come "rapidly... within a few hours," French government spokesman Francois Baroin said after the UN Security Council approved "all necessary measures" to impose a no-fly zone on Libya.

The goal of the operation would be to "protect the Libyan people and to allow them to go all the way in their drive for freedom, which means bringing down the Qaddafi regime," Baroin told RTL radio.