February 20, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – The Libyan people are in desperate need of food and medical supplies as they battle security forces and mercenaries, an opposition figure told Sudan Tribune today.
Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, gestures as he speaks during an address on state television in Tripoli, in this still image taken from video, February 20, 2011 (Reuters)
Anti-government protesters rallied in Tripoli’s streets, tribal leaders spoke out against Gaddafi’s 41-year iron rule and army units defected to the opposition as oil exporter Libya endured one of the bloodiest revolts to convulse the Arab world.
Medical sources and others on the ground have said that at least 219 had died nationwide in the violence, mostly through gunshots. Doctors from inside Libya speaking to Arab TV channels are complaining that supplies in hospitals are running low.
“We urge humanitarian groups to send relief supplies particularly food and medicine and if possible blood donations, to the people of Libya through the borders with Egypt,” Hadi Shalluf told Sudan Tribune by phone from Paris.
Shalluf confirmed media reports that the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, is now largely controlled by protesters.
Later in the day, eye-witnesses reported that thousands in the Libyan capital of Tripoli took the streets throwing stones at billboards of Gaddafi.
The Libyan-French lawyer, who says his father was killed by the regime, said that options are now limited for Gaddafi.
“This will spread all across the country and there will be heavy fighting leading to bloodshed which will further aggravate the people,” Shalluf said.
“Gaddafi will either be arrested or forced to escape. Even that last option may not be possible as there are only few countries that will be willing to receive him. Even Saudi Arabia will be reluctant to host him,” he added.
Tunisia’s former president Zain al-Abedine Ben Ali, who was ousted in a popular uprising last month, fled to Saudi Arabia where he is currently residing. Riyadh also offered to receive former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, also forced out after street protests this month.
Shalluf said Gaddafi will seek to avoid staying in countries that are signatories to the International Criminal Court (ICC) statute for fear of future prosecution. He mentioned Zimbabwe, not an ICC member, as possible safe haven for the Libyan leader.
The Libyan lawyer, who is the first Arab to be registered as a counsel before the Hague tribunal to represent any possible suspects, urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to refer the situation in Libya to the ICC as they did with Darfur in 2005.
“We are witnessing war crimes and genocide against Libyans by the regime and mercenaries with a shoot-to-kill policy. The civilian casualties inflicted is intentional and by no means collateral damage, Violence is the only language Gaddafi understands,” Shalluf said.
He noted that last year the ICC prosecutor opened an investigation into Kenya’s post-election violence which claimed over 1,300 lives and displaced many more thousands.
Shalluf criticized the international community particularly the European Union (EU) for their silence on the “crimes committed against the Libyan people”. He attributed that to their multi-billion dollar trade with Libya.
“Targeting the oil pipelines in Libya is the only way you will get their [EU] attention,” Shalluf said.
On Sunday, the leader of the Al-Zuwayya tribe in eastern Libya threatened to cut oil exports to Western countries within 24 hours unless authorities stop what he called the “oppression of protesters”.
Shalluf said that he anticipated the downfall of Gaddafi “in no more than two weeks” adding that major tribes such as Warfalla are rebelling with army units defecting as well.
Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared on national television on Sunday night in an attempt to both threaten and calm people, saying the army would enforce security at any price.
Wagging a finger at the camera, he blamed Libyan exiles for fomenting the violence. But he also promised dialogue on reforms and wage rises.
But Shalluf described the concessions as “too late”.
In a related issue, the Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson Khalid Moussa denied reports alleging involvement of Sudanese expatriates in Libya in the current unrest.
Should Gaddafi be toppled, Sudan will lose one of its main allies in the region. The Libyan leader has been at the forefront of African Union (AU) efforts seeking backing to Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir against ICC indictment.
It was Gaddafi who forced the AU summit in Sirte in July 2009 to adopt a resolution instructing all members not to apprehend Bashir even if they are ICC members.
African diplomats later said that AU countries were not allowed to debate the text on the ICC. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Gaddafi resorted to bullying his peers to accept the decision.
Libya also plays a major role in Darfur with strong ties to rebel groups and has made several attempts to forge a solution to the eight years conflict. It is currently hosting leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Khalil Ibrahim after being barred entry to Chad.
Khartoum has asked Tripoli to expel Ibrahim but their request was rejected. However, the Libyan government promised not to allow JEM chief to make any statements out of there.
December 19, 2010 (NAIROBI) – Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and the Libyan leader Muammar Al-Qaddafi will both arrive in Khartoum on Tuesday for talks with Sudan president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir as his country hurtles towards a vote in January 2011 on the independence of south Sudan region.
Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak (File photo taken from www.allvoices.com)
Sudan’s official News Agency SUNA reported on Sunday that the two dignitaries would hold talks with Al-Bashir in order to discuss the overall situation in Sudan as well as issues of common interests.
The high-profile visit comes as the semi-autonomous region of South Sudan prepares to seize a historic opportunity to gain full independence from the north when its citizens go to the polls on January 9, 2011.
The highly sensitive plebiscite is a key plank of a 2005’s peace deal that ended decades of civil war between the mainly Muslim north Sudan and the south where most people follow Christianity or traditional beliefs.
Al-Qaddafi and Mubarak’s visit also follows news reported on Sunday that U.S President Barack Obama had recently sent letters to a number of regional leaders underscoring his administration’s increasing focus on Sudan’s referendum and the situation in Darfur region.
Darfur region in western Sudan has been the scene of an armed conflict since 2003 when rebels belonging mostly to African ethnicities took up arms against the central government in Khartoum, accusing it of marginalizing the region in terms of development and wealth-sharing.
The rebellion promoted Khartoum to launch a counterinsurgency campaign whose end result was the death of 300,000 people and displacements of 2 million, according to UN figures.
Mike Hammer, the White House National Security Council spokesman, said that Obama’s letters had made it clear that “Sudan is one of the [US] administration’s top priorities.”
According to Hammer, the letters were part of “an ongoing diplomatic push to emphasize the importance that Washington places on a peaceful Sudan,” as quoted by Reuters.
Libya’s leader Al-Qaddafi received one of Obama’s letters, as reported by the country’s national T.V on Saturday.
In another vein, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdul Aziz arrived in Sudan on Sunday for a three-day official visit. He was received at Khartoum airport by Al-Bashir, according to the Mauritanian news agency.