NATO not doing enough in Libya, says France

Tripoli: As forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi continue to push the rebels from their positions, cracks seem to be appearing in NATO over military strategy in Libya, with major NATO alliance partner France demanding that the punishing raids should be carried out to finish strongman`s tanks and heavy artillery.

NATO is not doing "enough", the French Foreign minister Allen Juppe said, as he clamoured for heavier strikes to destroy heavy weaponry used by Gaddafi`s forces in Libya to break the present stalemate on the ground.

"NATO must play its role fully. It wanted to take the lead in operations," Juppe said, adding that Libyan civilians remain at risk.

France, UK and the US under the banner of NATO are leading the drive against pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya.

"It must play its role today which means preventing Gaddafi from using heavy weapons to shell civilian populations," Juppe was quoted as saying by BBC.

Libyan rebels have been pushed back despite air raids by NATO on the forces of Gaddafi.

Meanwhile, Libya`s former foreign minister Mussa Kussa, who is in the UK after defecting from Moamer Gaddafi regime, feared that the restive nation could become a "new Somalia".

"I ask everyone, all the parties, to avoid taking Libya into a civil war," the former minister said in a statement issued to the BBC.

"This would lead to so much blood and Libya will be a new Somalia," he said. "We refuse to divide Libya.

"The unity of Libya is essential to any resolution and settlement for Libya," he added.

Meanwhile, the government forces pounded besieged western town of Misurata, which has been the scene of heavy bombardments for more than a month now. The rebels pushed back an advance by Gaddafi`s forces into the town.

In the eastern battlefront, where the government forces were rapidly advancing till yesterday, a major NATO strike destroyed 25 tanks on the outskirts of Ajdabiya and Misurata, helping the opposition stem their advance.

While 11 tanks were hit outside Ajdabiya, which the rebels were struggling to hold on, while another 14 were targeted on the outskirts of Misurata.

Earlier, the Benghazi-based council, which is demanding an end to Gaddafi`s decades-long rule, said the "road map" set out by a delegation of five African presidents was "outdated", following the deaths and destruction wreaked in the past month since the proposals were first outlined.

"The demand of our people of our people from day one was that Gaddafi must step down," spokesman Mustafa Jabril said. .

"Any initiative which does not include this key popular demand will not be regarded. Muammar Gaddafi and his sons should depart immediately."

Jabril threatened that pro-democracy fighters would march on Tripoli.

"We cannot negotiate the blood of our martyrs," said Jabril. "We will die with them or be rewarded with victory."

He also thanked the international community and coalition forces for their support, which he said had saved the lives of civilians, the al-Jazeera reported.

The road map was a five-point plan which called for a ceasefire and the protection of civilians, alongside the provision of humanitarian aid for Libyans and foreign workers in the country.

The plan also called for dialogue between the two sides, an "inclusive transitional period" and political reforms which "meet the aspirations of the Libyan people".

Al Jazeera`s Laurence Lee, reporting from Benghazi, summed up Jabril`s words as: "No deal."

"There`s a particular military style of strategy at work here – and that is that they`d rather `die on their feet than live on their knees`."

The African leaders met yesterday with Gaddafi, who they said "accepted" the proposals.

The African Union`s plan had been given a cautious welcome in capitals around the world, with British foreign secretary William Hague stating that any ceasefire agreement must meet the terms of UN resolutions in full.

Franco Frattini, Italian foreign minister, said it was unlikely Gaddafi would respect any ceasefire, "after the horrific crimes enacted".

And NATO`s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that any ceasefire must be "credible and verifiable".

Jacob Zuma, the South African president, said Tripoli had "accepted" the African Union“s plan for a ceasefire which would halt a NATO bombing campaign that destroyed 26 loyalist tanks on Sunday alone.

But anti-Gaddafi fighters doubted the Libyan leader would adhere to such a deal.

Al Jazeera`s Laurence Lee, reporting from Benghazi, says the strategy of the council is that `they`d rather die on their feet than live on their knees`.

They would negotiate a political transition to democracy with certain senior regime figures but only on the condition that Gaddafi and his sons leave the country, they said on Sunday.

People in Benghazi were asking whether the proposals were a "genuine attempt at conflict resolution" or "an attempt by people who have close economic and political ties to Gaddafi to try and shore up the appearance of legitimacy", our correspondent said.

The revolt against Gaddafi`s 41-year reign began as a wave of protests across the country in late February but soon escalated into a civil war after Gaddafi`s troops fired on demonstrators and armed fighters seized several eastern towns.

Libyans outside the airport echoed the rebels` official demands, saying they appreciated the African Union`s efforts but wanted Gaddafi to step down.