Buckling under global pressure, Muammar Gaddafi today announced a ceasefire and halted all military operations, hours after the UN authorised a no-fly zone over Libya and US and allies readied plans for a military action which France said could come “within hours”.
“We have declared a ceasefire. We have halted all military operations to protect civilians in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution,” Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa said in a live broadcast over state-run television.
Koussa said the ceasefire “will take the country back to safety” and ensure security for all Libyans.
But he also criticised the authorisation of international military action, calling it a violation of Libya’s sovereignty.
He implored all governments and NGOs to send fact finding missions to Libya to come to the right decision and ascertain facts on the ground.
His unannounced broadcast came as Gaddafi’s forces were still reported to be 120 kms away from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and his men were locked in pitched battles with rebels at the key town of Ajdaibya in the east and Zintan, Nalut and Misurata in western Libya.
Al Jazeera said that Gaddafi’s forces had encircled Ajdaibya, occupying its eastern, western and southern outskirts and tanks and artillery were pounding Misurata. Some of his forces had bypassed Ajdaibya, to head towards Benghazi.