Posted By Colum Lynch Friday, February 25, 2011 – 7:20 PM
Europeans powers introduced a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would impose a range of military and financial sanctions against President Muammar al-Qaddafi, his sons Saif and Mutassim, and his inner circle, and authorize the International Criminal Court to launch an investigation into possible war crimes during a bloody government crackdown on protesters demanding end to Qaddafi’s 41 year rule.
The British led-initiative came as Libya’s U.N. envoy, Abdurraham Mohamed Shalgam, broke ranks with the regime in an emotional address before the 15-nation council. Shalgam accused his longtime friend and mentor of giving the Libyan people the grim choice: “Either I rule you or I kill you.”
Shalgam appealed to the council to intervene urgently to stop the continuing bloodshed, saying “I hope that within hours, not days, they can do something effective and tangible to stop” the killing. Shalgam said he believed Gaddafi’s downfall was imminent and that his passage would mark a major turning point in the Middle East, ending an era of dictatorial rule.”I tell my brother Gaddafi leave the Libyan people alone,” said before breaking into tears and embracing other Arab ambassadors and the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
Ban provided a chilling briefing to the council on events on the ground in Libya, citing “credible and consistent” reports that Qaddafi’s supporters were opening fire on civilians as they left their homes, conducting door to door searches for protesters, and entering hospitals to kill wounded civilians. He said that more than 1,000 Libyans have already been killed.
“The violence must stop,” Ban told the council. “Those responsible for so brutally shedding the blood of innocents must be punished. It is time for the Security Council to consider concrete actions. The hours and the days ahead will be decisive for Libyans and their country.
After his speech, the council went into closed-door meetings to consider a Security Council resolution drafted by Britain after discussion with the United States, France, Germany and Portugal. The draft statement calls for the imposition of a comprehensive arms embargo on Libya, and proposes a set of targeted sanctions, including a travel ban and asset freeze, against Qaddafi, and about 20 relatives and members of his inner circle. The draft would also invite the International Criminal Court to carry out an investigation into war crimes in Libya during the latest turmoil.
It remained unclear whether Russia and China would block an international investigation. The draft resolution “calls for an immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the populations.” It also calls upon the Libyan government to “act with restraint,” provide “safe passage” to aid workers and medical supplies, lift “restrictions” on the media, and “ensure the safety of all foreign nationals and facilitate the departure of those wishing to leave the country.”
France’s U.N. ambassador, Gerard Araud, said that there is broad support in the council for the imposition of military, financial and travel sanctions. But he said the council has not achieved agreement on the proposal to authorize the ICC to investigate crimes. The council’s experts will meet again at 9 am on Saturday to resume negotiations, and hold a more formal session of the Security Council at 11. Araud said he hope the council could adopt the resolution by tomorrow afternoon.
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