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Libyan Rebel Applauds International Call for Gadhafi to Step Down

  • Peter Clottey

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) speaks during a conference at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London March 29, 2011. More than 40 governments and international bodies gathered in London on Tuesday to plan for a Libya without Muammar Gadda

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) speaks during a conference at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London March 29, 2011. More than 40 governments and international bodies gathered in London on Tuesday to plan for a Libya without Muammar Gadda

A member of the rebels fighting forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says opposition groups seeking to overthrow the administration are encouraged by the stance taken by the international community that Gadhafi must step down.

Awad Juma, speaking after an international conference on Libya in London Tuesday, says the main objective of the rebels is to march towards the capital, Tripoli, to force Gadhafi to step down.

“We feel good about it [because] the [London] meeting went as we would like it to. Maybe we would [have] liked more. We had a delegation of two people who met the foreign ministers of so many countries, including [U.S. Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton and they explained what the Libyan people want. We have two urgent requests, to protect the people of Misrata and [other places] that have been under fire from Gadhafi’s forces for two weeks without stopping,” said Juma.

“The other point which we are happy about is that the conference focused on issues after Gadhafi, which means they have already decided that Gadhafi has to go. As a matter of fact, the foreign ministers of Italy and Germany were deciding to find a place for Gadhafi and that they are trying to find him and his family a safe haven. They decided not to press charges against him if he decides to go away,” he added.

Leaders from 40 world powers meeting in London agreed Tuesday that Gadhafi must step down, as they intensified talks with opposition forces for a political transition in the North African country.

Although regime change is not a stated aim of the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing military action to prevent a humanitarian disaster, dozens of nations agreed that Gadhafi had lost legitimacy and would have to give up power.

Juma says the international community should do more to aid the rebels in their fight to liberate Libya from Gadhafi’s rule.

“Gadhafi can say what he wants. He brought in foreign fighters from Serbia, to Africans, to Columbians, all these are foreigners, and they are killing the Libyan people. But, Gadhafi never considered that as interference in Libyan sovereignty. So, if we [rebels] ask for [international] help, why is it interference?” Juma asked.

The rebel advance towards Sirte, a Gadhafi stronghold, was pushed back by Gadhafi loyalist forces.

Juma says the rebels are determined to force Gadhafi to step down.

“We are prepared and I think we have even surprised Gadhafi because we are fighting him with light weapons, as his troops fight us with modern [sophisticated] weapons. We have no weapons given to us from the West. We asked that from the beginning, but the West is still thinking about it as [U.S. President Barack] Obama said that we may be given,” said Juma.

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