SecGen calls for Libyan cease fire

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called for an "immediate and verifiable" cease fire between the rebels and Gaddafi yesterday. The UN-approved mission has turned into a quagmire and Ban is looking for Gaddafi to bail the UN out.


Ban was speaking in Geneva after talking with Libya's Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi. There was no immediate direct response from the rebels or government.

Gaddafi's government has made several ceasefire declarations but has continued its attacks on the besieged western city of Misrata and other rebel-held areas.

"He (Mahmoudi) even suggested the Libyan government was willing to have an immediate ceasefire with a monitoring team to be established by the United Nations and the African Union," Ban told a news conference.

"But first and foremost there should be an end to the fighting in Misrata and elsewhere. Then we will be able to provide humanitarian assistance and in parallel we can continue our political dialogue," Ban added.

Rebels said on Tuesday they made gains by driving back Gaddafi's troops on the eastern and western edges of Misrata and encircling them at the airport.

The prospect of a negotiated settlement with Gaddafi remaining in power would not go down well with France and Great Britain who have staked their national prestige on bringing down the dictator. But even they must realize by now that the rebels will not have the organization, the firepower, or the expertise to win an absolute victory over Gaddafi's forces - perhaps for years. Therefore, some kind of settlement is inevitable.

Ban will seek to gain his cease fire by having NATO put pressure on the rebels to agree. While most rebels reject the idea of a cease fire, they might change their tune if NATO refuses to fly missions to help them against government forces. Eventually, they will fall into line, although it may be weeks before that occurs.