Libya rebels reject regime's truce offer

The rejection came amid reports that Seif-al-Islam Gaddafi, Colonel Gaddafi's son, had offered to set up an interim government that would remove his father and supervise a transition to constitutional democracy in return for a ceasefire.

Abdelati Laabidi, Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister, is reported to have made the offer during negotiations in Greece.

"According to what the Libyan envoy said, the regime seems to be looking for a solution," Dimitris Droutsas, the Greek Foreign Minister, said after Sunday's meeting between Prime Minister George Papandreou and Mr Laabidi, who will also be travelling to Malta and Turkey on Monday in an effort to whip up support for the deal.

But the rebels swiftly rejected any deal that would involve the Gaddafi family.

Shamseddin Abdulmelah, a spokesman for the rebels' Transitional National Council, said "Gaddafi and his sons have to leave before any diplomatic negotiations can take place."

The rebel spokesman said the regime had lost any right to talk of a negotiated exit because of its continued attack on Misrata, one of the last towns held by anti-Gaddafi forces in western Libya.

"How can you negotiate at the point of a gun?" he asked.

Mr Abdulmelah said that Seif al-Islam had shown through his conduct since the uprising began on February 15 that his reputation as someone who wanted to change the regime from within was completely baseless.

"People thought he was a reformer but since the revolution began, he has shown his true colours. He is a carbon copy of his father," the spokesman said.

His remarks came even as rebel forces launched a fresh attempt to recapture the oil town of Brega. Regime forces used artillery to beat off an earlier rebel attempt to take Brega on Sunday.

Fighting also continued in Misrata, from where a Turkish aid ship evacuated over 250 injured on Sunday.

Even though rebel forces have been unable to register significant successes in recent fighting, there are signs that the Gaddafi regime is crumbling from within.

Ali Treiki, Libya's former foreign minister and UN General Assembly president, became the latest official to abandon the Libyan leader, following the flight to Britain of foreign minister and regime stalwart Mussa Kussa days earlier.

[Source: The Telegraph, London, 04Apr11]

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