Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi will have to receive security guarantees to relinquish his four decades of rule over the North African nation, said Mikhail Margelov, Russia’s envoy for negotiating Qaddafi’s departure.
“Qaddafi will be interested in getting guarantees about his personal security,” Margelov said in a phone interview from Harare today after holding talks with Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe.
Qaddafi is willing to surrender power in exchange for security guarantees, Moscow-based Kommersant reported today, citing an unidentified high-level Russian official. President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday discussed an African Union plan to resolve the conflict in Libya with his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Russia’s resort of Sochi.
“The meeting was very effective because Mr. Zuma set out his vision of how to achieve a political solution in Libya,” Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO and a participant in the talks, said by phone today from St. Petersburg.
NATO must end its campaign against Qaddafi’s forces to allow the political process to go forward, Rogozin said.
Countries including France have signaled they may meet Qaddafi’s conditions by unfreezing his assets and providing immunity from the United Nations war tribunal in The Hague if he cedes power peacefully, Kommersant reported.
“It’s clear that many countries will be ready to be quite flexible toward Qaddafi to convince him to give up all his political posts and his family to give up their economic influence,” Margelov said.
The Libyan leader is also demanding that his son Saif al-Islam Qaddafi take part in the elections that would follow his resignation, according to Kommersant.
Qaddafi will not be able to stay in Libya, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the head of the National Transitional Council of the rebels, said yesterday. Jalal el-Gallal, a spokesman for the council, had separately said that the rebels would tolerate the presence of Qaddafi in Libya were the leader to resign and face prosecution.
The next step under the African Union-sponsored peace plan is for high-ranking Libyan rebel and government representatives to agree on how to negotiate a final settlement, according to Margelov.
“The question of his personal security must be guaranteed by the Libyans themselves,” he said. “No one is demanding that Qaddafi leave Libya. He can stay in his country, of course, if there is an agreement on both sides.”
Rasmussen said yesterday that the alliance would continue its offensive in Libya until it meets the goals sanctioned by a United Nations resolution that authorized military action to protect civilians.
NATO has set three objectives: a complete halt to attacks on civilians by government forces, the withdrawal of those troops to barracks and access to humanitarian aid for the people of Libya, Rasmussen said in Sochi.
Russia, which abstained from the UN Security Council vote in March that backed the NATO-led military action in Libya, has repeatedly criticized the alliance for going beyond its UN mandate.