Elections watched by international observers could take place in Libya within three months, one of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s sons says in a published interview.
The European Union, the African Union, the United Nations or NATO could be present to ensure transparency, Saif Gadhafi told the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.
“The important thing is that the election is clean, there is no suspicion of fraud,” he said in the interview published Wednesday and updated online Thursday.
The 38-year-old, who has stood by his father in the regime’s violent crackdown on a rebellion that spiraled into a civil war, also said the vote would be carried out “at the most at the end of the year.”
Libya’s foreign minister, meanwhile, called for a ceasefire and said talks could begin afterward, according to a Russian envoy who arrived in Libya on Thursday.
Foreign Minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi “called for an immediate ceasefire and the launch of a broad dialogue about the future of the country,” Mikhail Margelov said.
The talks could take place on neutral territory, such as in Malta, Cairo or Tunisia, with the African Union playing the “parimary role in settlement efforts,” Margelov said Libyan leadership told him.
Margelov also said he was told Gadhafi is not ready to step down from power.
Before leaving on his trip, Margelov said there was “a possible option where Gadhafi continues living in Libya as a private individual with his people and his tribe but relinquishes power and his family stays away from taking economic decisions,” according to Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency.
Margelov said last week that the rebel Transitional National Council did not need “Gadhafi’s head, and no one is going to scalp him and nail it to the wall in his office,” the agency reported.
Margelov has talked to the opposition in Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital, and consulted with Ahmed Gaddafi al-Dam, a cousin of Gadhafi’s, in Cairo, he said.
The comments came amid continued fighting in parts of Libya.
Several explosions rattled Tripoli on Thursday morning as Libyan state television reported bombardments in Sirte, east of Tripoli, and other areas.
Rebel forces said they have made progress in recent days in the fight against Gadhafi’s forces. They’ve taken control of the mountainous Jebel Nafusa region southwest of Tripoli, said Ahmed Bani, an officer with the rebel forces.
Rebels have also made gains in the western city of Zlitan, Bani said.
As the fighting continues, critics in the United States have raised more questions about U.S. involvement in the civil war.
A bipartisan group of 10 House members filed a lawsuit Wednesday, challenging U.S. participation in the Libya mission.
The lawmakers have accused President Barack Obama of taking illegal action by committing the country to military action in Libya without proper consultation with Congress, as required by the War Powers Resolution.
“We are intending through our presence and through this lawsuit to correct an imbalance which exists today, to correct a deficiency in the separation of powers … and to firmly establish that Congress is a co-equal branch of government and that the founders made it unmistakably clear they did not intend for the war power to be placed in the hands of an executive,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.
The White House released a report defending the legality and costs of U.S. military action in Libya, saying the president has constitutional authority “to address such limited military operations abroad.”
The U.S. military began action in Libya in March following a U.N. Security Council vote to impose a no-fly zone and take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. Several days later, NATO agreed to take command of the mission.
NATO said Thursday that it has carried out 11,241 sorties since March 31.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Thursday that she believes Obama had the authority to engage U.S. forces in the Libya mission.
Pelosi said the War Powers Resolution is a “controversial initiative in the first place,” adding: “Usually, Congress puts more stock in it than the White House.”
Pelosi said polls show that more Americans support the mission than oppose it.
Congress members feel the White House has failed to adequately communicate with them about the mission, Pelosi said. She likened it to a marriage, saying “you can always do more.”
“You might think you’re doing enough, but if the other party doesn’t think so, you’re not doing enough.”
(edition.cnn.com / 16.06.2011)