A diplomatic push by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime to end the country’s conflict has run into trouble as the opposition said it rejected any proposal that would leave the Libyan leader or his sons in power.
“This war has shown everyone and the world that Gaddafi’s sons are no different from him,” Iman Bughaigis, the opposition spokeswoman, said in Benghazi. “They are two sides of the same coin.” “Gaddafi has been waging a war on our people with the help of his sons’ militias and mercenaries, so we see no difference between them. There is no way to negotiate with this regime.”
The New York Times reported on Monday that Saif al-Islam and Saadi Gaddafi, two of the Libyan leader’s sons, have created their own plan to remove their father from power amicably and negotiate an end to the conflict.
However, US officials said they had no information about a plan involving Gaddafi transferring power to one of his sons.
At the UN’s headquarters in New York, Abdelilah al-Khatib, the secretary-general’s special envoy to Libya, who visited Tripoli on March 31 and Benghazi on April 1, said that Libyan authorities were willing to accept a ceasefire.
Al-Khatib told the Security Council that Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the opposition leader, insisted that Gaddafi first must leave, his forces must withdraw and the Libyan people must be allowed to express their opinions freely – conditions the government reportedly rejected.
On Monday, a government spokesperson said the Libyan government is ready to negotiate reforms, such as elections or a referendum, but only its own people can decide whether Gaddafi should stay on as leader.
“We could have any political system, any changes: constitution, election, anything, but the leader has to lead this forward. This is our belief,” Musa Ibrahim, the Libyan information minister, told reporters on Tuesday.
He said no conditions could be imposed on Libya from abroad, even though the country was ready to discuss proposals aimed at bringing more democracy, transparency, press freedom and anti-corruption laws.
Ibrahim described Gaddafi as “the safety valve” for the unity of the country’s tribes and people.
Ibrahim accused some Western leaders of trying to topple Gaddafi out of personal interest or for economic gain. He denied allegations that government forces were involved in any attacks against civilians.
Forces loyal to Gaddafi have killed at least five people in an attack on a residential area in the port city of Misratah.
According to medical sources, Gaddafi forces shelled the residential area late Monday. The death toll is expected to rise as the injured people are unreachable by medical teams, Reuters reported.
On March 15, the US froze the assets of Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa to pressure Gaddafi’s regime to stop the attacks against revolutionary forces. However, the sanctions were lifted on March 30 due to Koussa’s defection to Britain in an attempt to persuade other individuals in Gaddafi’s regime to follow suit.