'Libya announces increase in wages, food subsidies'

Reports say Gaddafi to raise public sector wages to 150% in bid to keep power; UNSC set to discuss arms embargo, sanctions on Libya.

Anti-Gaddafi gunmen in Libya 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Anti-Gaddafi gunmen in Libya 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
In a bid to hold on to power, the Libyan government announced on Friday that it plans to raise wages, increase food subsidies and give special allowances for all families, according to Reuters quoting Libyan TV reports.
The reports said that every family will receive about $400 to help cover increased food prices, and that salaries for some public sector workers would increase by 150 percent.
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As unrest in the North African country enters its ninth day, the UN Security Council was scheduled to meet Friday afternoon to discuss a proposal backed by France and Britain for sanctions against Libyan leaders over the recent violence against demonstrators in the North African country.
The French and British plan to ask the UN for an arms embargo and financial sanctions against Libya, and intend to take Libyan leaders to the International Criminal Court over crimes against humanity, according to Reuters.
Although no vote is expected on a sanctions resolution, Western diplomats told Reuters they hope for quick negotiations on the document next week.
The UN's top human rights official, Navi Pillay, meanwhile, said reports of mass killings of thousands in Libya should spur the international community to "step in vigorously" to end the crackdown against anti-government protesters.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said Friday that the bloc needs to consider sanctions such as travel restrictions and an asset freeze against Libya to achieve a halt to the violence there and move toward democracy.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday also called an emergency NATO council meeting to discuss the situation in Libya, reported Reuters.
"It's a bit premature to go into specifics but it's well-known that NATO has assets that can be used in a situation like this and NATO can act as an enabler and coordinator if and when individual member states want to take action," Rasmussen was quoted as saying.
Army, protesters prepare for fight over Tripoli
As the fighting appears to be nearing the capital, former Libyan justice minister Mustafa Abdel Galil, who resigned from his post earlier this week, warned on Friday that Gaddafi may use biological and chemical weapons against civilians, according to an Al Jazeera report.
"We call on the international community and the UN to prevent Gaddafi from going on with his plans in Tripoli," Galil told Al Jazeera.
"At the end when he’s really pressured, he can do anything. I think Gaddafi will burn everything left behind him."
Galil's comments come after evidence of mass executions by government forces emerged in recent days based on videos uploaded on YouTube.
The clips show dead and bloody bodies of people who are reportedly soldiers, after they were executed for refusing to shoot demonstrators. Other videos showed civilians preparing mass graves in Libya. The videos come amid reports Thursday that as many as 2,000 people have been killed in the Libyan unrest.
After heavy fighting continued Thursday, reports said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was preparing soldiers for a fight over Tripoli on Friday.
A Tripoli resident said people in the capital have received messages on their cell phones urging them to launch demonstrations after Friday prayers, and he said he expected thousands to comply despite fear of pro-Gaddafi militiamen who have been deployed on the streets.
Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East
Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East
Earlier, the Libyan government appeared to have lost control of much of the eastern part of the nation while protestors claimed new gains in cities and towns closer to the heart of Gaddafi's regime in the capital.
Signaling continued defiance, Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam, vowed his family will "live and die in Libya," according an excerpt from an interview to be aired later Friday on CNNTurk. Asked about alternatives in the face of growing unrest, Gaddafi said "Plan A is to live and die in Libya, Plan B is to live and die in Libya, Plan C is to live and die in Libya."