11 Apr 2011

African leaders say Gaddafi accepts peace plan

6:06 pm on 11 April 2011

A high-level African Union delegation visiting Tripoli says Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has accepted its peace plan to bring an end to the fighting in Libya.

Western forces began carrying out air raids on Libya on 19 March to enforce a United Nations no-fly zone and to protect civilians from attacks by government troops. NATO assumed responsibility for the military operation at the end of the month.

The delegation, including South African President Jacob Zuma, arrived in Libya on Sunday to try to negotiate a truce between the Libyan leader's forces and rebels seeking to oust him, the BBC reports.

The delegation also includes President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, President Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo, and Ugandan Foreign Minister Henry Oryem Okello, representing Yoweri Museveni.

The talks were held at Colonel Gaddafi's heavily-guarded compund Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli where cheering supporters were present.

Afterwards, Mr Zuma said Colonel Gaddafi had accepted the road map to peace as presented by his African visitors.

The plan calls for a ceasefire, safe passage for humanitarian aid and negotiations between the rebles and the government.

Mr Zuma said they had to give the ceasefire a chance.

The delegation will now try to get an agreement from rebel forces.

The opposition has said it rejects any ceasefire that would mean Colonel Gaddafi or his sons remain in power.

Western officials acknowledge that NATO air power will not be enough to help the rebels overthrow Colonel Gaddafi and they are now emphasising a political solution.

Assault on rebel town stopped

NATO air strikes have helped stop a major assault by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on the rebel town of Ajdabiyah.

NATO says it hit 11 tanks outside the eastern town.

The alliance says it has also destroyed 14 tanks on the outskirts of Misrata, a rebel city in western Libya, which has been under siege for six weeks.

Earlier, the BBC reported that the rebels in Ajdabiyah seemed to be losing control after the heaviest government assault for at least a week.