Libya Dismisses Vague Proposal For Elections
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
To Libya now, where NATO resumed its daytime airstrikes today in and around Tripoli. That prompted Moammar Gadhafi to deliver a ranting speech against the alliance on Libyan State Television. His prime minister leader termed the bombings an escalation that had killed more than 850 civilians. The attacks and Gadhafi's response appear to have dashed any immediate hope of a diplomatic solution to the crisis. The latest effort at peace came yesterday from Gadhafi's own son, who put forward a vague proposal for new elections.
NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has the story from Tripoli.
SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: NATO strikes like this one rained down on Tripoli today, as Moammar Gadhafi took to the airwaves to try and rally his supporters.
Mr. MOAMMAR GADHAFI: (Foreign language spoken)
NELSON: He claimed that no matter how much NATO bombs Libya, the alliance will ultimately face defeat. He also railed at the men defecting from his regime and the military, calling them cowards like the rebels.
At one point, he made a spitting sound.
Prime Minister AL-BAGHDADI AL-MAHMOUDI (Libya): (Foreign language spoken)
NELSON: At a rambling press conference the evening before, his prime minister, Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, called the defectors traitors, but the prime minister extended an olive branch to some of the rebels. He said the government is willing to talk to those he described as belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood or to dissidents who live outside Libya.
Gadhafi's status, however, is not negotiable, he said.
Prime Minister AL-MAHMOUDI: (Through Translator) Moammar Gadhafi is the leader of this country and a symbol. And being a symbol, we will not accept anything that might be done against him.
NELSON: Mahmoudi also dismissed a proposal by Saif al-Islam published Thursday in an Italian newspaper. The younger Gadhafi told Corriere della Sera that elections could be held across the country in the next three to six months. He said those elections would be internationally supervised - possibly by NATO - provided the alliance stops its attacks and the international embargo is lifted.
He added his father must be allowed to run.
Prime Minister AL-MAHMOUDI: (Foreign language spoken)
NELSON: But Mahmoudi denied the Libyan leader would stand in any elections. He said if some Libyans want to turn their country into a liberal democracy or even a monarchy, they can debate that amongst themselves under the existing political framework.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Tripoli.
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