Libyan govt says Gaddafi won`t step down

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 20:19

Tripoli/Washington: Rebels advanced
towards the oil town of Brega on Tuesday as coalition air strikes
targeted several military vehicles of Muammar Gaddafi, but
diplomatic moves to end the over month-long conflict made
no headway with the Libyan leader refusing to bow out of
power.

In a calibrated move, the US decided to drop financial
sanctions against Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa who
defected to Britain last week hoping other aides of Gaddafi
would follow suit.

A coalition strike destroyed at least two military
vehicles of Gaddafi in Brega, about 800 km east of Tripoli,
helping rebels surge towards the town.

Hitting back, Gaddafi`s troops fired rockets and
resorted to heavy shelling to stop the rebels march.

Gaddafi`s forces had regained control over Brega but the
rebels had fought back fiercely taking advantage of the
coalition strikes.

Quoting rebel spokesman, Al-Jazeera said opposition
forces had managed to push into the town seizing half of it.

The control of the oil town is vital to rebel stakes
as the capture of the oil pipeline terminus, small refinery
and the Mediterranean port could boost the opposition hunt for
revenues.

"The rebels are in the streets of new Brega, a largely
residential town separated from the city`s oil refinery by a
stretch of highway," the Al-Jazeera said.

There were conflicting reports that 68-year-old Gaddafi
was ready to negotiate a deal with the western powers under
which he remains in the country, but this was firmly rejected
by the rebels.

The pro-democracy forces have made it clear that
Gaddafi has to step down and there was no question of
any of his sons taking his place.

Gaddafi`s spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said that everything
except the exit of the Libyan leader was negotiable, in first
concrete comments from the beleaguered regime whose forces
have been hit relentlessly by Western missiles and air strikes
for weeks.

"The kind of political system which can be implemented
in the country is negotiable. We can talk about it," he told
reporters in the capital.

The firm comment by the Libyan government spokesman
that Gaddafi would not quit came after opposition rebels
flatly rejected a reported peace deal that could have seen the
dictators son Seif-ul-Islam taking over.

Terming Gaddafi as the "safety valve", the Libyan
spokesman said his stay in power in the country was essential
for the unity of nation`s tribes and peoples.

"His (Gaddafi) presence is a must to lead Libya to any
transition to a democratic and transparent model," Ibrahim
said.

BBC reported that the rebels were getting ready to
export the first oil shipment since the month-long uprising
for an end to the 41-year rule of Gaddafi.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 20:19

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