Gaddafi regime 'has no legitimacy'

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The Independent Online

Representatives of more than 40 nations and international institutions today agreed at the Libya Conference in London that Muammar Gaddafi and his regime have "completely lost legitimacy and will be held accountable for their actions".

Foreign Secretary William Hague hailed the conference as "a significant milestone" in allowing the Libyan people to determine their own future.

Sweden has agreed to join Nato military operations in Libya, while the coalition enforcing United Nations Security Council resolutions in the country has been "widened and deepened" and a new Libya Contact Group has been established to co-ordinate the international response, said Mr Hague.

He told a press conference at the Foreign Office: "We have said throughout that we want the Libyan people to be in the lead in determining their future and today was a significant milestone in that process.

"It comes at a time when the forces of the Gaddafi regime continue to shell civilians in Misrata and Zintan in an indiscriminate and brutal manner, underlining why our efforts to protect Libyan citizens must and will continue."

Mr Hague read from a letter he had received from a member of the local council in Misrata, thanking Britain and its allies for coming to the aid of the Libyan people "in their most needy of hours".

He said the letter confirmed that allied air strikes in the Misrata area had been accurately directed at military targets of the Gaddafi regime and had caused no civilian deaths or injuries.

Mr Hague said the conference had not discussed calls - from the main Libyan opposition group who he met for talks before the conference - for the rebels to be supplied with arms.

However he appeared not to rule out the possibility in the future.

"It was not on the agenda for discussion," he said. "It is not part of any agreement today."

In the UK's view, UN Security Council resolution 1970, which imposes an arms embargo among other sanctions, "applies to the whole of Libya", he said.

But it would be consistent with the later resolution 1973 authorising the military action "to give people aid in order to defend themselves in particular circumstances", he noted.

Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al-Thani said the effectiveness of air strikes had to be evaluated "after the while" to see whether other measures were required.

He also suggested that time was running out for Gaddafi to leave.

"This is the only solution to sort this problem as soon as possible. Right now we don't see any indication of that but this hope which we offer now might be not on the table after a few days.

"I am not warning anybody here but I am trying to stop the bloodshed," he told reporters.