Gaddafi arrest warrant welcomed

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Indy Politics

Foreign Secretary William Hague hailed the issue of an international arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi today, saying it showed he had "lost all legitimacy".

Mr Hague insisted the move should act as a warning to Gaddafi's circle that they would be held to account for crimes against civilians.

His comments came after the International Criminal Court issued warrants for the dictator, his son Saif al Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al Senussi.

"These individuals are accused of crimes against humanity and should be held to account before judges in a criminal court," Mr Hague said.

"The warrants further demonstrate why Gaddafi has lost all legitimacy and why he should go immediately. His forces continue to attack Libyans without mercy and this must stop.

"People at all levels of seniority should think carefully about the consequences of what they do - whether they are ordering attacks on civilians or carrying them out; whether they are firing rockets into residential areas or intimidating ordinary Libyans who want a better future.

"Those involved must take full responsibility for their actions, and must be held to account."

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that Gaddafi was wanted for orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising to topple him from power, and for trying to cover up the alleged crimes.

Presiding judge Sanji Monageng, of Botswana, said there were "reasonable grounds to believe" that Gaddafi and his son are both "criminally responsible as indirect co-perpetrators" for the murder and persecution of civilians.

The fact that the dictator and some of his closest allies are now internationally wanted suspects could complicate any efforts to negotiate his departure and end the bloody conflict in the North African state.

Even before the warrants were confirmed, the Libyan regime's spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, had rejected the ICC as having "no legitimacy whatsoever".

Earlier today, at a press conference in London with Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao, Prime Minister David Cameron reaffirmed his determination to see the military campaign in Libya through.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox also claimed that senior figures around Gaddafi could play a key role in ending the conflict.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast after the Nato operations passed the 100-day mark, Dr Fox said: "The message should ring out very clearly to Colonel Gaddafi and his regime that, not only can we do it, not only do we have the military hardware to do it, but we have the political and moral resolve to continue to protect the population of Libya as long as we are asked do so under the authority of the United Nations and as long as Colonel Gaddafi is waging war on his own people."

The Cabinet Minister added that the way in which the mission was carried out was "sustainable" in spite of questions raised by Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant, the RAF head of combat operations, and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope.

"We have made it very clear that the way in which we are carrying out this mission is sustainable along with our allies, and I think that it is very important that, when you are in a conflict, you do not raise ideas in the minds of your opponents that we may not be willing to carry this through," Dr Fox said.

Mr Cameron said: "Britain and our partners are acting absolutely within the ambit of a UN resolution that was passed without objection and without veto.

"Our action in Libya is about protecting civilian life - that's why we are taking the steps we are to stop Gaddafi who is still trying to kill, maim, murder, bomb, shell, snipe his own civilians, his own citizens, and will continue to act under UN Resolution 1973.

"That's our responsibility - to protect civilians. Obviously it is for the Libyan people themselves to decide how they are governed and who governs them.

"I am confident that the pressure is growing on Gaddafi - military pressure, political pressure, diplomatic pressure - and we should keep that pressure up."

But Mr Wen called for the situation to be resolved through "political, peaceful means".

"We believe that the settlement of issues in a country should be based on the efforts of the people of that country," he said.

"We hope that the issue of Libya will be resolved through political, peaceful means, to reduce the humanitarian harm and in particular the harm to innocent civilians."

He added: "We place our hope with the Libyan people and we believe that it is the efforts of the people of that country that will eventually spur progress in the country.

"Foreign troops may be able to win war in a place, but they can hardly win peace. Hard lessons have been learnt from what has happened in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

"As to what position the UK Government should take, on this Prime Minister Cameron has made it very clear already."

China had recently had contacts both with the Libyan government and the opposition, Mr Wen said.