Libya declares ceasefire after UN resolution

Foreign minister says measure to be put in place immediately to protect civilians, foreigners and foreign assets.

Libya rebels benghazi_311 reuters (photo credit: Goran Tomasevic / Reuters)
Libya rebels benghazi_311 reuters
(photo credit: Goran Tomasevic / Reuters)
TRIPOLI - Libya declared a ceasefire in the country to protect civilians and comply with a United Nations resolution passed overnight, Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa said on Friday.
"We decided on an immediate ceasefire and on an immediate stop to all military operations," he told reporters. "Libya takes great interest in protecting civilians," he said, adding that the country would also protect all foreigners and foreign assets in Libya.
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The announcement comes despite Saif al-Islam, one of Muammar Gaddafi's sons, saying earlier Friday that Libya is not afraid of the UN resolution authorizing military strikes to protect Libyan civilians, Al Arabiya television reported. Al Arabiya did not say where or when he made the remark.
Moments before the ceasefire was announced, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain will imminently start moving fighter jets to bases from where they can help enforce a no fly zone over Libya.
Cameron, who said British forces would join the UN-sponsored operation if Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi failed to stop attacks on civilians, said the international community would soon set out what it expected from Gaddafi.
The United Nations Security Council voted Thursday to authorize military force against Gadhafi’s forces.
“Today the Security Council has responded to the Libyan people's cry for help,” US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said. “This Council's purpose is clear: to protect innocent civilians.”
France and Norway announced Friday that they will join the international military action against Gaddafi's forces.
French government spokesman Francois Baroin said on Friday that "The French, who led the calls [for action], will of course be consistent with military intervention." Asked to specify what that meant, he said "they will participate" in operations.
Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East
Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East
The UN resolution demands the "immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks, and abuses, of civilians." The resolution stipulates that member states, upon notification to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, can “take all necessary protect civilians and civilian populated areas, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."
The Security Council’s authorization of the use of force also includes the enforcement of a no-fly zone to protect civilians, as well as an enforcement of the arms embargo, banning all international flights by Libyan owned or operated aircraft. The resolution also freezes the assets of certain individuals and five entities including critical state-owned Libyan companies. A newly established Libyan Sanctions Committee is empowered by the resolution to impose
sanctions on those who violate the arms embargo, including by providing Gadhafi with mercenaries. 
“The future of Libya should be decided by the people of Libya,” Rice said in her remarks to the Security Council. “The United States stands with the Libyan people in support of their universal rights.”
The resolution was backed strongly by France, the United Kingdom and Lebanon. Ten countries voted in favor of the resolution. Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil abstained.