Al Qathafi Regime Seeking Immediate Truce; Leader Could Eventually Step Down

Tripoli Post:  Important articles in two British daily newspapers today indicate that there might be changes soon in Libya with high government officials indicating a shift of position in their search for a peaceful solution in Libya. Observers say that the two articles could be interpreted as there being some hope in sight for a solution to the uprising that kicked off on February 17 in Benghazi intended to push Libyan leader Muammar Al Qathafi from power. But it all boils down to trust and the willpower of both sides.

 

In The Daily Telegraph, Libyan deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim, has been reported admitting for the first time, that all political options were on the table in future negotiations over the country’s future. Another newspaper, The Independent reports Libyan Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi saying that the Libyan leader, Muammar Al Qathafi is prepared for an immediate UN-monitored ceasefire in Libya. Citing a copy of a government document, The Independent said Mahmoudi proposed a ceasefire in a letter to foreign governments. “We must stop the fighting, start talking, agree on a new constitution and create a system of government that both reflects the reality of our society and conforms to the demands of contemporary governance,” Mahmudi reportedly said. “The cycle of violence must be replaced by a cycle of reconciliation. Both sides need the incentive to move out of their corner and to engage in a process that will lead to consensus,” he added. Saying that Al Qathafi might eventually step down as Libya’s leader, Khaled Kaim insisted however, that Al Qathafi was not considering an immediate “exit strategy” and the issue would not be subject to negotiations with the West or NATO. “This is for the Libyan people to decide,” he told The Daily Telegraph. He insisted that the Libyan leader was not considering an immediate “exit strategy” and the issue would not be subject to negotiations with the West or Nato. “This is for the Libyan people to decide,” Kaim told The Daily Telegraph. Kaim’s admission came as European Union and African Union diplomats set out terms for a ceasefire and possible settlement, and the Libyan government sent its own ceasefire proposals to the United Nations. For the first time, there were signs that all these proposals were beginning to move to a common ground, in which Al Qathafi might be allowed to remain in power but only temporarily, while ceasefire negotiations took place. The Libyan government’s letter with the proposals sent to UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon and the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, reiterated what Mr Kaim said were existing Libyan government ceasefire proposals. That would include monitoring by the United Nations, and reconciliation talks with the rebels leading to a final settlement and a new constitution. He denied media reports that a visit next week by African mediators led by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa would be discussing an “exit strategy” for the Libyan leader. He said that constitutional changes already discussed over the last year by the Libyan government apparatus included the possibility that Al Qathafi would either take a figurehead role or retreat from politics altogether leaving a “normal” political system in place. “It all depends on what the Libyan people want,” he said. Meanwhile, European diplomats appear to have softened their demands that Al Qathafi leave immediately, suggesting he could remain in place while Libya’s future was negotiated. Mr Ban said he had spoken at length to Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, to once again to listen to his concerns over the recent intensified bombing campaign. “I reiterated the urgent need for a real ceasefire and serious negotiations on a transition to a government that fully meets the aspiration of the Libyan people,” the UN secretary general said. The Libyan government’s letter to the UN will most probably be dismissed by the rebels NTC that has said such ceasefire offers have in the past three months been ignored by government forces even as they were being made. The rebels also believe that Col Al Qathafi is unlikely to step down, having already claimed just to be a figurehead. In the meantime, the pan-African bloc (AU) has called for a ceasefire and set up a high-level mediation team, but its efforts have had little effect on the ground as Western powers continue with air raids against the regime. Al Qathafi himself readily accepted the plan, but it was rejected by the rebels who keep insisting on Al Qathafi’s departure first. The AU also proposed a transition period for negotiations to organise elections. But the AU’s proposals for resolving the North African country’s months-long crisis, including the mediation team made up of African heads of state, have largely been snubbed.