Key Libyan diplomats disown Gadhafi’s regime

Key Libyan diplomats disown Gadhafi’s regime

February 22, 2011
The Associated Press
By Edith M. Lederer

Key Libyan diplomats disowned Moammar Gadhafi’s regime on Monday and the country’s deputy U.N. ambassador called on the longtime ruler to step down because of its bloody crackdown on protesters.

The Libyan ambassador to the United States also said he could no longer support Gadhafi, the ambassador to India planned to resign, and the ambassador to Bangladesh quit to protest the killing of family members by government troops. Almost all Libyan diplomats at the United Nations backed deputy ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi’s pleas to Gadhafi to end his 40-year rule and to the international community to intervene.

The U.N. spokesperson’s office said late Monday that the Security Council had scheduled consultations on the situation in Libya for Tuesday morning. Earlier, Dabbashi had called for an urgent meeting of the Security Council to take action to stop the bloodshed.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Beverly Hills, California, that he hopes that “the Security Council will take this matter on an urgent basis.”

Ban said it was up to the Security Council to decide whether to call for some sort of “no-fly zone” over Libya to protect protesters from attacks by Libyan aircraft.

As diplomatic support for Gadhafi began to crumble, Dabbashi warned that if he doesn’t leave, “the Libyan people will get rid of him.”

Gadhafi’s security forces unleashed the most deadly crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, with reports Monday that demonstrators were being fired at from helicopters and warplanes. After seven days of protests and deadly clashes in Libya’s eastern cities, the eruption of turmoil in the capital, Tripoli, sharply escalated the challenge to Gadhafi.

Ban expressed outrage late Monday at the reported aerial attacks and said the “violence against demonstrators must immediately stop.”

“I have seen very disturbing and shocking scenes, where Libyan authorities have been firing at demonstrators from warplanes and helicopters,” Ban told reporters at a hotel in Beverly Hills. “This is unacceptable. This must stop immediately. This is a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”

Ban said he had spoken to Gadhafi earlier Monday for 40 minutes and “forcefully urged him to stop violence against demonstrators and again strongly underlined the importance of respecting the human rights of those demonstrators.”

Libya’s ambassador in Washington, Ali Adjali, told BBC World that the reports of firing from warplanes spurred his decision not to support the government any more.

“To me it is a very sad moment seeing Libyans killing other Libyans,” he said. “I’m not supporting the government killing its people. … I’m (not) resigning Moammar Gadhafi’s government, but I am with the people. I am representing the people in the street, the people who’ve been killed, the people who’ve been destroyed. Their life is in danger.”

Dabbashi, the deputy U.N. ambassador, also said he and the U.N. diplomats were not resigning because they served the people of Libya and not the regime.

“This is in fact a declaration of war against the Libyan people,” he told reporters, surrounded by a dozen Libyan diplomats. “The regime of Gadhafi has already started the genocide against the Libyan people.”

Libya’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham was not present at Dabbashi’s press conference. He told the U.N. correspondent for the pan-Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat, that all diplomats at Libya’s mission supported Dabbashi “excluding me.” Shalgham said he was in touch with the Gadhafi government and was trying “to persuade them to stop these acts.”

Libya’s ambassador to Bangladesh, A.H. Elimam, resigned to protest the killing of family members by government soldiers in Libya, said a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said Elimam informed the foreign ministry about his resignation late Monday.

In New Delhi, an Indian diplomatic official told the AP that the Libyan ambassador to India intends to resign. However, as of Tuesday morning the ambassador, Ali al-Essawi, had not officially met with the foreign ministry to turn in his credentials.

Earlier, al-Essawi told the BBC he was resigning because of “massive violence against Libyan civilians.” Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, who resigned Sunday as Libya’s ambassador to the Arab League in Cairo, demanded that Gadhafi and his commanders and aides be put on trial for “the mass killings in Libya.”

“Gadhafi’s regime is now in the trash of history because he betrayed his nation and his people,” al-Houni said in a statement.

A Libyan diplomat in China, Hussein el-Sadek el-Mesrati, told Al-Jazeera, “I resigned from representing the government of Mussolini and Hitler.”

Libyan embassies in Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were closed Tuesday, according to non-diplomatic workers who answered the telephones.

Gadhafi appeared very briefly on Libyan state television early Tuesday to attempt to show he was still in charge and dispel rumors that he had fled.

Gadhafi is reportedly using mercenaries against the protesters and Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-flight zone “on the cities of Libya so no mercenaries, no supplies of arms will arrive to the regime.”

Dabbashi also urged the international community to establish safe passage for medical supplies from neighboring Tunisia and Egypt to get across the borders to Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, which was the scene of the heaviest fighting. By Monday, protesters had claimed control of the city, overrunning its main security headquarters.

“We also call on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes against humanity committed by Gadhafi against the Libyan people,” Dabbashi told the Associated Press.

The best scenario, he said, “is to have him before the court, to prosecute him and to know from him everything about the crimes he committed before, whether it is … the genocide he is committing now or the disappearance of certain important personalities… and all the other crimes he has committed during the 42 years in power.”

Dabbashi also called on all countries to refuse entry to Gadhafi if he tries to escape and to monitor financial transactions if he tries to send money outside Libya.

Some 70 human rights groups called for immediate international action “to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people.”

The groups urged the U.N. Security Council to meet and take action to protect Libyan civilians from “crimes against humanity,” and they urged the U.N. General Assembly to suspend Libyafrom membership on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

The signatories included the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy, Physicians for Human Rights, Geneva-based UN Watch, and groups from many other countries including South Africa, Switzerland, India, Nigeria, Germany, Pakistan, Venezuela and Britain.

UN Watch