TRIPOLI, Libya — Moammar Gadhafi is ready for a truce to stop the fighting in his country, visiting South African president said Monday after meeting the Libyan ruler, but he listed familiar Gadhafi conditions that have scuttled previous cease-fire efforts.
The South African president. Jacob Zuma, said Gadhafi is ready to accept an African Union initiative for a cease-fire that would stop all hostilities, including NATO airstrikes in support of rebel forces. "He is ready to implement the road map," Zuma said.
Zuma said Gadhafi insists that "all Libyan be given a chance tp talk among themselves" to determine the country's future. He did not say Gadhafi is ready to step down, which is the central demand of the rebels. He was speaking to reporters from South African and Libyan TV, which broadcast his remarks late Monday.
In April, Zuma led a delegation of the African Union to Tripoli with an African Union proposal for a truce. Gadhafi said he would accept the truce but quickly ignored it and resumed his attacks, while the rebels rejected the cease-fire out of hand because it did not include Gadhafi's exit from power. Since then many cease-fire efforts have failed for similar reasons.
In Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital, rebel Foreign Minister Fathi Baja told The Associated Press he believes Zuma is in Tripoli to negotiate an exit strategy for Gadhafi, though Zuma's office denies that.
Baja said, "I think Gadhafi is in big trouble, the balance of power has changed completely militarily, the circle around him is deserting him ... even Russia is asking him to leave." Baja said the rebels would launch an offensive against Gadhafi soon.
For decades Gadhafi has identified Libya as an African as much as an Arab nation. He disbursed millions of dollars in aid to African nations and built himself up as a leader of the continent.
Zuma was greeted with all the requisite fanfare by Gadhafi's beleaguered regime. Dozens of Gadhafi supporters, bused in for the welcoming, waved green Libyan flags and chanted slogans denouncing the NATO bombing campaign against Libyan government targets.
NATO temporarily lifted its no-fly zone over Libya to allow Zuma's South African air force plane to land at the main military air base next to Tripoli.
In Rome Monday, an indication that Gadhafi's regime is losing support came from eight top Libyan army officers, including five generals, who defected from Gadhafi's military. They appealed to their fellow officers to join the revolt.
Several senior officials, including at least three Cabinet ministers, have abandoned Gadhafi during the uprising that began in February. Even so, he clings tenaciously to power, and the military units still loyal to him are far superior to the forces available to the rebels.
One of the officers, Gen. Melud Massoud Halasa, estimated that Gadhafi's military forces are now "only 20 percent as effective" as what they were before the revolt broke out in mid-February, and that "not more than 10" generals remain loyal to Gadhafi.
Gen. On Ali On read an appeal to fellow army officers and top police and security officials "in the name of the martyrs who have fallen in the defense of freedom to have the courage" to abandon the regime.
The general, wearing street clothes like his fellow defectors, denounced both "genocide" and "violence against women in various Libyan cities."
An anti-government activist based in Tripoli said that dozens of residents angrily chanted against Gadhafi's rule in a rare demonstration in the Libyan capital on Monday. His claims could not be confirmed because of restrictions placed on reporters in Tripoli. The activist sent reporters a YouTube video showing the men chanting, "There is only one God and Moammar (Gadhafi) is his enemy." The timing and authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed.
- From 0.3 to 81.1: What percentage of each...
- 2 on missing Malaysia jet used stolen EU...
- Terrorist attack? Mechanical failure? Reasons...
- Oil slicks found in hunt for Malaysia jet...
- Rutgers faculty council pushes for school to...
- Report: Ukraine base in Crimea under siege
- Early auditions for 2016 Republican...
- No longer loyal to Boy Scouts of America,...
- No longer loyal to Boy Scouts of... 53
- Obama administration allows 2-year... 28
- Putin: Russia has right to use force in... 22
- Disney ending funding to Boy Scouts in... 21
- Half of millennials more likely to lean... 14
- Former IRS official Lois Lerner again... 11
- New Ukraine prime minister: Crimea will... 9
- US announces visa restrictions on Russians 9