GADAFFI ARMS ONE MILLION CIVILIANS
Sunday, 20th March, 2011
By Raymond Baguma, Cyprian Musoke and Agencies
LIBYA’s government has started distributing arms to more than one million people, the Libyan state news agency reported yesterday.
In a televised phone call to state television, Libyan president Col. Muammar Gadaffi said he would not let up on the rebel-held Benghazi city. He added that the government had opened up weapon depots to all Libyans, who were now armed with ‘automatic weapons, mortars and bombs.’
Jana news agency also quoted sources in Libya’s defence ministry saying they “expected the operation of arming more than a million men and women to end within hours.”
President Museveni was yesterday expected to travel to the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, to meet with four other heads of state on an African Union (AU)-appointed panel to resolve the Libyan crisis.
However, he was represented by foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa and security minister Amama Mbabazi. South African president Jacob Zuma was also represented at the meeting.
The meeting was attended by presidents Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (Mauritania), Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo) and Amadou Toumani Touré (Mali). It was also attended by Dr. Jean Ping, the AU commission chairperson.
According to a press release from the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, there was an in-depth exchange of views on the situation in Libya, and the modalities for the implementation of the committee’s mandate.
“They agreed to engage with all the parties in Libya, continuously assess the situation on the ground and to facilitate an all inclusive dialogue between the Libyan parties on the appropriate reforms to be carried out.”
They also agreed to engage AU’s partners, especially the League of Arab States, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the European Union and the UN, to facilitate coordination of efforts and seek their support for the early resolution of the crisis.
However, the committee expressed regret over not being able to travel to Libya yesterday to meet the conflicting parties.
“The committee, in conformity with resolution 1973(2011) of the United Nations Security Council, requested the required permission for the flight carrying its members to Libya in order to fulfill their mandate. However, they were denied permission,” the release added.
The UN Security Council on Thursday approved a no-fly zone over Libya, allowing “necessary measures” to defend civilians.”