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No foreign intervention, Libyans tell West

Libyan pro democracy protesters say they are determined to unseat strongman Muammar Gaddafi without any foreign military intervention, even at the cost of further bloodshed.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Benghazi
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2011 02:28 AM IST

Libyan pro democracy protesters say they are determined to unseat strongman Muammar Gaddafi without any foreign military intervention, even at the cost of further bloodshed.

With world powers weighing options to end Gaddafi's 41 year hardline rule, protesters who overran Benghazi, Libya's second city, hoisted a banner spelling out their message loudly and clearly, "No foreign intervention, Libyan people can do it alone."

The devastating sectarian violence that rocked Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 US led military intervention, that brought down dictator Saddam Hussein, haunts many Libyans. "The Iraqi example scares everyone in the Arab world," said Abeir Imneina, a professor of political sciences at the university of Benghazi.

"We know very well what happened in Iraq, which is in the throes of instability. Following in those footsteps is not appealing at all," she said. "We don't want the Americans to come and then to have to regret (the end of the rule of) Gaddafi," she added.

The national fibre appears strong in Libya, where on Sunday Gaddafi opponents announced the creation of "national councils" in all freed cities, that would serve as the "face of Libya in the transitional period."

In a clear signal of their intentions, the revolution's spokesman said Libya's people would liberate cities across the oil rich North African nation and leave the task of freeing the capital Tripoli to the army. The anti regime protesters are "counting on the army to liberate Tripoli," said Abdel Hafiz Ghoqa.

But "the people of Libya will liberate their (other) cities."

Ghoqa also rejected the need for "any foreign intervention or military operation."

And on Saturday former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who has joined the rebellion against Gaddafi and quit the regime, said that a transitional government would pave the way for elections.

France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Monday "all options" were being discussed by world powers. "I know that people have mentioned military solutions, and these solutions are being examined by the French government," Fillon said told RTL radio.

One option on the table was using NATO air power to impose a no fly zone over Libya to stop Gaddafi from using air strikes against his own people. However, such a step would require UN approval, experts said.

The United States said exile was "one option" that would satisfy its demands for Gaddafi to go, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney. Carney also said Washington was in touch with various factions of the Libyan opposition, but said it was premature to start talking about recognizing one group or the other.

Fethi Terbil, a lawyer whose arrest earlier this month triggered the revolt for change in Libya, said anti regime activists need "intelligence" information but nothing else that would undermine sovereignty. "We would accept a no-fly zone but not economic sanctions that would penalise the people. We want intelligence but nothing that would undermine our air, land or maritime sovereignty," he told reporters on Saturday.

For Imneina "there is a very strong feeling of nationalism in Libya." "There is also the feeling that this is our revolution and that it is up to us forge ahead," she said. "The Tunisians and the Egyptians were successful in their revolutions," which toppled the long-serving autocratic leaders in those countries, "and this provoked jealousy" among the Libyans, she said. "My students ask me: 'Why them and not us'," she added.

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