Exclusive: Battered Libya sues for peace - Africa - World - The Independent

Exclusive:

Exclusive: Battered Libya sues for peace

As President Obama vows 'We will not relent until the shadow of tyranny is lifted', Gaddafi's Prime Minister offers Nato a ceasefire, amnesty for rebels, reconciliation, constitutional government – and an exit strategy

The Libyan regime is preparing to make a fresh overture to the international community, offering concessions designed to end the bloodshed of the three-month-long civil war.

The Independent has obtained a copy of a letter from the country's Prime Minister, Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, being sent to a number of foreign governments. It proposes an immediate ceasefire to be monitored by the United Nations and the African Union, unconditional talks with the opposition, amnesty for both sides in the conflict, and the drafting of a new constitution.

David Cameron and Barack Obama met yesterday to try to find an exit strategy from a conflict increasingly appearing to have no definitive military solution in sight. The US President acknowledged that the allies now seem to face a long, attritional campaign.

Behind the scenes, there are signs that Western powers may agree to a ceasefire without the precondition of Muammar Gaddafi and his immediate family going into exile.

Both the British Prime Minister and the US President declared yesterday that the Libyan dictator must leave the country. However senior officials from both sides of the Atlantic increasingly indicate that talks should start if the regime forces end their military action, and there are also genuine signs that Colonel Gaddafi is relinquishing direct control of the state apparatus.

Unusually, Dr Mahmoudi's letter makes no mention of Colonel Gaddafi's role in the country's future. Previous regime communiqués have insisted that the Colonel will fight on, while other proposals, notably by his son Saif al-Islam, envisaged Colonel Gaddafi staying on as a figurehead as a period of transition gets under way.

The alliance led by Britain, France and the US has put its stock in backing the Libyan revolutionaries. Although the rebels in the port of Misrata have thrown back regime troops besieging their city, the main rebel force in the east of the country has failed to make any headway despite two months of Nato bombing. Meanwhile the opposition's political leadership, based in Benghazi – some of them senior former regime officials – insists that no talks can be held until Colonel Gaddafi and his family go into exile.

Whitehall sources say there is a widespread feeling that the Cameron government "set the bar too high" in stating that the departure of the Libyan leader was a prerequisite for a deal to end the strife.

"They thought he would do a runner like Ben Ali [in Tunisia] and Mubarak [in Egypt]," said one. "We know we will have to deal with members of the regime in the future. After all, a lot of the rebel council are former regime people. We should give the people in Tripoli some wriggle room to help them ease out Gaddafi."

Dr Mahmoudi's letter stated: "The future Libya will be radically different to the one that existed three months ago. That was always the plan. Only now we may need to accelerate the process. But to do so, 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.

"We must immediately make humanitarian assistance available to all Libyans in need whether they are in Libya or outside. 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."

The Libyan Prime Minister's initiative follows meetings held with Ban Ki-moon which led to the United Nations Secretary General calling for an "immediate, verifiable ceasefire". The UN's special envoy in Libya, Abdel Elah al-Khatib, had discussed specific conditions needed for this with Dr Mahmoudi and a select few regime officials.

The official government estimate of the cost of Libyan military operations for the UK alone is £100m so far, although independent defence analysts claim it adds up to three times that figure. However there is no doubt that this is likely to escalate significantly with the ratcheting up of operations which this week saw the heaviest bombing of Tripoli so far.

Britain and France are sending attack helicopters to take part in Libyan operations, and the RAF is said to be considering sending more Tornado GR4 jets. The firepower from the aircraft is considered to be necessary as the range of targets within Libya is widened.

Advocates of military action hold that it is the intensification of attacks which is driving the regime to seek a deal. According to defence officials, more than 1,200 targets have been "degraded" since the start of operations.

Extract from the letter

"We propose that parliament will convene at an extraordinary session to appoint an executive committee which will manage the public affairs and foresee the ceasefire and propose a mechanism for a political dialogue... comprising representatives from all regions and civil society. A committee will be... mandated with drafting a constitution to the Libyan people for adoption which will define the political system in Libya. A process of reconciliation will be initiated which will include amnesty and compensation to all victims of the conflict. We are ready to talk to help mediate a ceasefire and to initiate discussions on the future form of constitutional government... Let us create a road-map to the future. What has occurred in Libya is part of a wider series of events throughout the Arab world. We understand this. We are ready and we know what is required of us."

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week