Gaddafi offers truce but not exit

Defiant Libyan leader says he is prepared to enter a ceasefire only if all sides are involved, but he vows to stay on.

    Gaddafi gave a speech live on state television early on Saturday morning [AFP]

    Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has said that he will not leave Libya and that he is still prepared to enter a ceasefire but only if all sides are involved.

    "I'm not leaving my country," he said in a live address on state television in the early hours of Saturday morning.

    "No one can force me to leave my country and no one can tell me not to fight for my country."

    Gaddafi said that he was still ready to enter a ceasefire but that all sides must be involved and not only his own forces fighting against rebels in the east.

    "[Libya] is ready until now to enter a ceasefire ... but a ceasefire cannot be from one side," he said in his live speech.

    "We were the first to welcome a ceasefire and we were the first to accept a ceasefire ... but the crusader NATO attack has not stopped."

    The Libyan leader also called for negotiations with NATO powers to end the air strikes on Libya that were continuing as Gaddafi delivered his live address.

    "We did not attack them or cross the sea ... why are they attacking us? Let us negotiate with you, the countries that attack us. Let us negotiate."

    Gaddafi added that if it was oil the coalition countries were after, there was no problem in negotiating contracts.

    If NATO powers were not interested in talks, however, the Libyan people would not surrender and were willing to die resisting what he called its "terrorist" attacks.

    He warned NATO that its forces would die if they invaded by land.

    "Either freedom or death. No surrender. No fear. No departure," he said.

    Gaddafi said the NATO air strikes and naval patrols went beyond the United Nations mandate and urged Russia, China and friendly African and Latin American countries to press the Security Council to take a fresh look at the resolution. 

    Conciliatory note

    In a marked contrast to previous speeches, where he called the rebels "rats" and promised to track them down house by house, Gaddafi urged the rebels to lay down their weapons and said Libyans should not be fighting each other.

    He blamed the rebellion on mercenaries and foreigners.

    "We cannot fight each other," he said. "We are one family."

    Gaddafi denied mass attacks on civilians and challenged NATO to find him the names of 1,000 people who had been killed in the conflict.

    After the pre-dawn broadcast, state television said NATO warplanes had bombed a site in the Libyan capital Tripoli next to the television building during Gaddafi's address.

    "A building adjacent to the Jamahiriya building was bombed during the broadcast of Muammar Gaddafi's speech and that implies a target on the leader of the revolution himself," the television said.

    The Transitional National Council, the rebels' broad political body, refused to acknowledge Colonel Gaddafi's conciliatory tone, pointing to his repeated and continued human rights violations.

    "[The Gaddafi regime] has repeatedly offered ceasefires only to continue violating basic human rights, international humanitarian law, and the safety and security of Libya and the entire region," the council said in a statement released Saturday.

    "Thousands of innocent civilians have been killed or injured. Countless others have been detained, tortured and are still missing. The time for compromise has passed," it said.

    "The people of Libya cannot possibly envisage or accept a future Libya in which Gaddafi’s regime plays any role."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and Agencies


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