A senior U.N. official says rebel forces in Libya now have the initiative.
U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe told the Security Council that Libyan rebels are gaining strength in the fighting against forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
“While we do not have a detailed understanding of the military situation on the ground, it is clear that the initiative, although halting, is now with the opposition forces supported at times by NATO air power," said Pascoe. "Press reports point to heavy fighting in the vicinity of Bir Al-Ghaanam some 50 miles [80 kilometers] from Tripoli.”
Pascoe noted that he was speaking 100 days since NATO operations began in Libya.
The U.N. official said it is clear under the two resolutions adopted by the Security Council on Libya that the United Nations has an obligation to protect the people of Libya and that, he added, is the goal of the current international efforts.
Pascoe said that while an agreement on a political solution that will end the violence in Libya is still far from being concluded, the beginnings of a negotiation process are certainly underway.
“The process must be given space to grow and bear fruit," he said. "It is important for the international community to deliver a consistent, clear and coherent message on a political solution to both parties.”
Pascoe said early preparations for what he called "post-conflict peace building and peace consolidation" must clearly be part of U.N. planning.
Pascoe observed during his remarks to the Security Council that the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Muammar Gadhafi, his son, and the head of Libyan intelligence on charges of crimes against humanity. He did not comment further on that development.