Libyan envoy joins 'revolution'

2011-02-20 22:28

Cairo - Libya's permanent representative to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim al-Honi, said on Sunday he was quitting his position in order to "join the revolution" that is unfolding in his country.

"I have submitted my resignation in protest against the acts of repression and violence against demonstrators [in Libya] and I am joining the ranks of the revolution," Honi said.

He was speaking to journalists in Cairo, where the pan-Arab group has its headquarters, after Human Rights Watch said the brutal crackdown on dissent in Libya had claimed at least 173 lives.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi came to power in 1969 in a military coup and has ruled the country without an elected parliament or constitution since then.

In Tripoli, meanwhile, members of a Libyan army unit are said to have defected and "liberated" the city from forces supporting Gaddafi.

Habib al-Obaidi, who heads the intensive care unit at the main Al-Jalae hospital, and lawyer Mohamed Al-Mana, told Reuters members of the "Thunderbolt" squad had arrived at the hospital with soldiers wounded in clashes with Gaddafi's personal guard.

"They are now saying that they have overpowered the Praetorian Guard and that they have joined the people's revolt," Mohamed said by telephone. It was not possible to independently verify the report. 

In another development, the US is urging its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Libya because of the clashes.

Demonstrators have not targeted Westerners, but the US warns that even peaceful demonstrations could "quickly become unruly" and foreigners could be subject to harassment or worse.

Protesters, inspired by uprisings in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt, are demanding an end to Gaddafi's 41-year.

His security forces have responded with a violent crackdown.

Read more on:    libya  |  libya protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings

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