Obama 311 reuters.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Muammar Gaddafi struck at rebel control of a key Libyan coastal road for a
second day on Thursday but received a warning his regime would be held to
account at the International Criminal Court for suspected crimes by his security
Meanwhile, Venezuela said Gaddafi had agreed to its proposal for
an international commission to negotiate an end to the turmoil in the world’s
12thlargest oil exporting nation, but a leader of the uprising rejected any
proposal for talks with the dictator.
strikes hit rebel-held towns in east Libya
Arabs demand Libya halt violence, eye no-fly
ICC prosecutor to open probe into Libya
US President Barack Obama called on
Gaddafi to leave power and said he has approved the use of US military aircraft
to pick up Egyptians on the Libya-Tunisia border.
“The US and the entire
world continues to be outraged by the appalling violence against the Libyan
people,” Obama told reporters at the White House, adding that “Gaddafi has lost
the legitimacy to lead, and he must leave.”
Obama said he had directed
the Pentagon to prepare for a full range of possible military options, one of
which would be the imposition of a no-fly zone.
In Paris, Foreign
Minister Alain Juppé said France and Britain would support the idea of setting
up a no-fly zone over Libya if Gaddafi’s forces continued to attack
In Libya’s east, the site of a struggle for control of a
strategically vital Mediterranean coastal road and oil industry facilities,
witnesses said a warplane for a second day bombed the oil terminal town of
Brega, 800 km. east of Tripoli. Warplanes also carried out two raids against the
nearby rebelheld town of Ajbadiya, witnesses said.
Criminal Court said on Thursday it will investigate Gaddafi, his sons and
members of their inner circle for crimes committed by their security forces.
Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of The Hague-based international tribunal said no
one had the authority to massacre civilians after a bloody crackdown on
demonstrators against Gaddafi’s rule in which thousands may have died.
said the court had identified several people at the top of the command chain who
could be investigated. “They are Muammar Gaddafi, his inner circle including
some of his sons, who had this de facto authority. There are also some people
with formal authority who should pay attention to crimes committed by their
Libyan government spokesman Musa Ibrahim told BBC Radio the news
from The Hague was “close to a joke.”
“No fact-finding mission has been
sent to Libya. No diplomats, no ministers, no NGOs or organizations of any type
were sent to Libya to check the facts... No one can be sent to prison based on
media reports,” he said.
At the same time, a UN report hailing Gaddafi’s
rights record was sidelined by the world body’s Human Rights Council just a few
days before it was due to be adopted. The report, reflecting a three-hour debate
in the council in November, included praise for Libya from a range of countries
that last Friday agreed that Gaddafi was a gross rights violator and backed his
country’s removal from the body.
As diplomatic moves against Libya
intensified, a spokesman for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a Gaddafi ally,
said the Libyan government had accepted a plan by Venezuela to seek a negotiated
solution to the conflict.
Venezuelan Information Minister Andres Izarra
also confirmed the Arab League had shown interest in the Chavez plan to send an
international commission to talk with both sides in Libya. Arab League
Secretary- General Amr Moussa said earlier that the plan was under
consideration. Moussa said he himself had not agreed to it and did not know
whether Gaddafi had done so. Chavez’s plan would involve a commission from Latin
America, Europe and the Middle East trying to reach a negotiated outcome between
the Libyan leader and rebel forces.
But Al-Jazeera reported that the
chairman of the rebels’ National Libyan Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, rejected
any talks with Gaddafi. The rebels, armed with rocket launchers, anti-aircraft
guns and tanks, called on Wednesday for UN-backed air strikes on foreign
mercenaries it said were fighting for Gaddafi.
Gaddafi’s son, Seif
al-Islam, said the bombing of Brega was intended to scare off militia fighters
and gain control of oil installations. On the ground, however, events appeared
to turn against Gaddafi, as rebels spearheading the revolt pushed their front
line against government loyalists west of Brega, where they had repulsed an
attack a day earlier.
The opposition fighters said they had driven troops
loyal to Gaddafi back to Ras Lanuf, home to another major oil terminal and 600
km. east of Tripoli, and also captured a group of mercenaries.
Defense Department on Thursday said it has evidence that the Libyan government
has been using air power.
“We have seen very clearly broadcast reports
showing effects of air power being used. Whether or not those were used
on rebels, I can’t say but...there is evidence they have used air assets
and drop coordinates,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. David Lapan told
On the Tunisian border, an organized international airlift
relieved the high-pressure human flood from Libya into the country, as word
spread to thousands of stranded refugees that planes were taking them home.