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Ceasefire or not, Libyan rebels under pressure

04-17-2011 15:50 BJT

BENGHAZI, Libya, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Libya's rebel forces, led by the newly-formed Transitional National Council (TNC), are advancing westward and fighting back bitterly with the government forces, town by town.

The rebels, backed by NATO airstrikes, have arrived in the east of the oil town of Brega to fight a tug of war with forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Battles also continued in some other places in the country, including the western city Misrata and Gaddafi's hometown Sirte. But the NATO countries have split over the scope of the alliance's military campaign.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated on Friday that there was no "purely military solution" to the crisis. Reaching ceasefire with the pro-Gaddafi forces or not, the TNC, which played some role as an "interim government" of rebels, is facing pressures from two fronts - international and domestic.

An African Union (AU) delegation last Sunday arrived in Tripoli, capital of Libya, to mediate a ceasefire deal for the country. The delegation Monday traveled to Benghazi, stronghold of rebels in eastern Libya.

Mull Sebujja, Uganda's ambassador to Ethiopia, said that, under the international law, the sole legitimate government of Libya currently is the Gaddafi government.

AU supported the Libyan people's movement to win freedom, but it preferred to see the opposition win its rights and benefits in open and free elections, instead of resorting to force, said Sebujja.

However, Christopher Prentice, who traveled with the AU delegation to Banghazi, said that the Gaddafi government has lost its legitimacy as it attacked civilians.

The delegation said that Gaddafi had accepted the roadmap initiated by the AU. The TNC had talks with the AU delegation for nearly four hours, apparently under pressures from the AU and Western countries and domestic chaos.

The TNC rejected the AU roadmap for ceasefire, saying it did not include the ouster of Gaddafi. The council mainly relies on the support of residents in eastern Libya, who strongly wanted Gaddafi to step down. If the council accepted the AU deal, it would face a risk of collapse.

The 30-member TNC is chaired by Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, a former justice minister who split with Gaddafi. The Benghazi-based council supervises a military committee and a small "emergency government" which has established nine "small ministries," including "the foreign ministry," "the defence ministry" and "the interior ministry" to handle emergencies in such fields as security and foreign affairs in eastern Libya, rebels said.

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