Libya ready to negotiate reforms – spokesman

2011-04-05 08:57

Tripoli – Libya is ready to negotiate reforms such as elections or a referendum, but the resignation of leader Muammar Gaddafi is non-negotiable, a government spokesman said today.

“How Libya is governed, this is a different matter. What kind of political system is implemented in the country? This is negotiable, we can talk about it,” spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told journalists. “We can have anything, elections, referendums.”

Ibrahim said Gaddafi was “the safety valve” for the unity of the country’s tribes and people.

“We think he is very important to lead any transition to a democratic and transparent model,” he added.

Gaddafi, meanwhile, greeted supporters in his first public appearance since March 22 at his Bab el-Aziziya residence in Tripoli, which had been bombed by coalition forces two days earlier, national television said.

His son, Saif al-Islam, who had long been seen as the successor to his father before the wave of protests that has shaken the north African country, also briefly showed up at a hotel where journalists are staying in the capital giving an interview to the BBC.

Saif had not been seen in public since coalition air strikes on March 19.

Italy, Libya’s former colonial master, yesterday said Gaddafi and his family must relinquish power.

“Gaddafi and his family must go,” Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Italian news channel SkyTG24.

He also said the international community should stand united and prevent any envoys from Gaddafi from “making a breach” in this solidarity.

Frattini spoke as Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Abdelati Laabidi held talks in Ankara following consultations in Athens on Sunday.

Laabidi then travelled to Malta to hold talks with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.

Earlier yesterday, Frattini said Italy had recognised the Libyan opposition’s Transitional National Council as its “sole interlocutor” and offered assistance for economic reconstruction in rebel-held eastern Libya.

He also dismissed Laabidi’s proposals, which have not been made public, as “not credible”, adding: “It is not possible to accept them.”

Ibrahim today regretted Italy’s decision to recognise the opposition council.

While saying that Tripoli was ready to negotiate with the West, he said Western powers could not decide what the Libyan people must do.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman earlier said that Britain was not pursuing an exit strategy for Gaddafi.

“We have been very clear throughout about what the next step should be and that needs to be a genuine ceasefire and an end to violence.

“An exit strategy for Gaddafi is not something we are involved in pursuing,” he said.

Britain has said Gaddafi must leave power and wants to see him face the International Criminal Court.

“All I would say on other members of that regime is that ultimately the judge of what is a suitable government needs to be the Libyan people,” said the spokesman.

“It’s not our position that we are going to impose solutions on Libya. That’s not something we would do. Any government needs to be a government that’s acceptable to all the Libyan people.” 

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