Jets deployed for Libya air strikes
Obama issues final warning for Libyan leader to surrender
Published 19/03/2011 | 05:00
COLONEL GADDAFI was last night warned he must surrender large swathes of Libya or face military action from Britain, France and other western countries this weekend.
British and French fighter jets were last night poised to participate in bombing raids against tanks and other targets after Barack Obama issued a final ultimatum to the Libyan leader.
In a statement last night, the US president warned Col Gaddafi that he must withdraw troops from previously rebel-held towns including Misrata and Zawiya.
The regime should also immediately stop its advance on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, he said, and basic services including water and electricity should be returned to the areas.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the "final result" of international action against Libya must be Gaddafi's departure from power.
World leaders hope that by protecting rebel areas and civilians, Libyans will force the peaceful removal of the dictator and prevent massacres of his own citizens.
However, the countdown to war was dramatically halted yesterday afternoon after the Libyan Government announced a ceasefire which it claimed could be monitored by international observers.
There were conflicting reports over whether the ceasefire was being observed by Libyan troops and western leaders said they were waiting for "action rather than words" from the regime.
"Let us understand the particular nature of the Libyan situation," British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a speech last night. "This is happening now right in front of us.
"A dictator no longer wanted by his people, but determined to play out in real time a bloody slaughter, and it is a slaughter that we now have the power, the demand and the legal basis to stop. That is why what we are doing is right," he said.
"Now once more Muammar Gaddafi has a choice," Mr Obama said. "Let me be clear: these terms are not negotiable, these terms are not subject to negotiation. If Gaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences and the resolution will be enforced."
Meanwhile, Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Eamon Gilmore yesterday backed the UN-mandated bombing of Libya.
"I believe Colonel Gaddafi has lost all legitimacy to rule and should be urged to leave the stage. We hope that the adoption of resolution 1973 will bring an end to that violence, protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian access," he said.
The Tanaiste was speaking after a meeting with Ms Clinton in the wake of the UN resolution to enforce the no-fly zone over the troubled country.