UN chief calls for an immediate ceasefire and a peaceful transition of power in Libya

August 23rd, 2011 - 2:14 pm ICT by BNO News  

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged for a smooth and peaceful transition in Libya amid signs that the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may soon fall.

“I call on Colonel Gaddafi’s forces to cease violence immediately, and make way for a smooth transition,” the Secretary-General said at UN Headquarters in New York. “This is a hopeful moment, but there are also risks ahead. Now is the time for all Libyans to focus on national unity, reconciliation and inclusiveness.”

The UN chief’s declaration comes as the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is reportedly coming to an end. Reports said rebels, who have been seeking Gaddafi’s ouster, have taken over significant parts of the country’s capital Tripoli.

“The dramatic scenes we are witnessing in Tripoli are a testament to the courage and determination of the Libyan people to seek a free and democratic future,” Ban stated. “It is crucial now for the conflict to end with no further loss of life and retribution.”

Ban said he intends to hold an urgent meeting this week with the heads of regional and international organizations. He has already been in touch with the representatives of the African Union, the League of Arab States and the European Union, among other world leaders, and he also plans to soon contact the President and members of the UN Security Council.

Ban also welcomed the assurances given by the Chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdul Jallil, that extreme care would be taken to protect people and public institutions and to maintain law and order.

The Secretary-General added that his Special Envoy for Libya, Abdel Elah Al-Khatib, and his Special Advisor for post-conflict planning, Ian Martin, will travel to Doha in Qatar to meet with the leadership of the NTC.

Ban said the UN is ready to extend all possible assistance to the Libyan people in this transitional phase in areas such as security and the rule of law, social and economic recovery, constitution-making, human rights and transitional justice.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, appealed to all sides of the conflict in Libya to ensure that thousands of foreigners, including refugees and migrant workers who are trapped in Tripoli and other areas by the ongoing fighting, are “fully and properly protected from harm.”

Libya has been engulfed in a civil war since an uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime began in mid-February, leading to UN Security Council Resolution 1973 which authorized its member states to impose a no-fly zone over the North African country and take ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians. Since then, NATO forces have carried out thousands of airstrikes across Libya to aid the rebels.

In June, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam, and the head of Libya’s intelligence forces, Abdullah Al Sanousi, for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the conflict.

It is uncertain how many people have been killed, but some estimates put the death toll as high as 20,000. Hundreds of thousands have also fled to neighboring countries over the course of the crisis.

Amid the latest developments in the country, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo stated that further conversations with NTC authorities will define the next steps, including “the possibility to apprehend and surrender to the court the three individuals alleged to have committed crimes after February 17, 2011, and also to investigate and prosecute them in Libya for crimes committed previously.”

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