No sign Gaddafi complying with U.N. demands: Ban

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 24, 2011 6:55 PM
No sign Gaddafi complying with U.N. demands: Ban

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - There are no signs that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's government is complying with U.N. Security Council demands for an immediate ceasefire, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday.

"There is no evidence that Libyan authorities have taken steps to carry out their obligations under resolutions 1970 or 1973," Ban told the Security Council. He was referring to two council resolutions that called for an immediate end to hostilities and imposed a no-fly zone over the country.

Ban said his special envoy to Libya, former Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelilah Al-Khatib, had personally warned Gaddafi's government the council may take further steps if Libya did not comply with last week's ceasefire demand by the Security Council in resolution 1973.

"The special envoy emphasized that it was in Libya's best interests to cease hostilities and change the dynamics of the crisis," Ban said. "If Libya did not act, the envoy stated, the Security Council may be prepared to take additional measures."

Ban's remarks to the council came as Western warplanes hit military targets deep inside Libya on Thursday but failed to prevent tanks re-entering the western town of Misrata and besieging its main hospital.

Council members discussed the crisis in Libya behind closed doors on Thursday but took no action.

Khatib will attend a meeting on Libya in Addis Ababa hosted by the African Union, Ban said after the meeting.

"Representatives of both the Libyan government and the opposition will attend, I was told, as well as relevant member states and regional organizations," he told reporters.

Ban added the military operations in Libya were not aimed at regime change, but solely to protect civilian.

Ban said his U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Libya, Rashid Khalikov, and his team had "only limited access" when they went to Libya to assess the humanitarian situation there.

"We have serious concerns ... about the protection of civilians, abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and the access of civilian populations to basic commodities and services in areas currently under siege," he told the 15-nation council.

Ban said Khatib's mission found "many worrying signs" in Libya. "Colonel Gaddafi's threats were aired repeatedly on national television," he said. "Journalists continue to be arrested."

Some 335,658 people have fled Libya since the beginning of the crisis, he said, adding the United Nations had contingency plans to deal with as many as 250,000 new refugees.

(Editing Peter Cooney)