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Arab League suspends Libya over crackdown

Cairo, February 23, 2011

The Arab League has suspended Libya from its sessions in light of violent crackdowns on anti-government protests, said media reports citing regional news network Al Jazeera.

The decision came at an emergency meeting held by the Arab League in Cairo to discuss the situation in Libya.

Earlier on Tuesday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa spoke of 'Arab anger about what is happening to civilians in Libya,' the report added.

Menawhile , the UN Security Council has condemned the Libyan authorities for using force against protesters and demanded an immediate end to the violence which has killed nearly 300 people.

In a statement, the council urged Libya's rulers  to 'address the legitimate demands of the population' and take action against the officials responsible for the violence.

The Security Council's statement came after a day of debate on the uprising in Libya, which has seen the state lose control of much of the east of the country, foreign mercenaries allegedly attacking civilians on the streets and warplanes reportedly shooting and bombing protesters.

Meanwhile, Libyan diplomats at the United Nations and several countries broke ranks with the country's leader Muammar Gaddafi, urging foreign nations to help stop what many called the slaughter of anti-government protesters.

Gaddafi's forces have cracked down fiercely on demonstrators demanding an end to his 41-year rule, with fighting spreading to the capital Tripoli after erupting in Libya's oil-producing east last week.

Ali al-Essawi, Libya's ambassador to India who resigned his post in protest at the violent crackdown, told Reuters he was beseeching global powers to help his people, who he said were being killed by mercenaries and air force strikes.

'Libyans cannot do anything against the air fighters. We do not call for international troops, but we call on the international community to save the Libyans,' Essawi said, looking nervous and agitated in a New Delhi hotel room where he is staying after leaving the embassy.

Meanwhile reports said anti-government protesters have taken over the eastern Libyan port city of Tobruk. Bursts of celebratory machinegun fire echoed through the streets of Tobruk on Tuesday as protesters trashed a monument toGaddafi's most treasured work, the reports added.

Residents said Tobruk, site of major battles between German and Allied forces in World War Two, was now in the hands of the people and had been so for about three days. They said smoke rising above the city was from a munitions store bombed by troops loyal to one of Gaddafi's sons.

Truckloads of demonstrators rolled down the streets of the eastern Libyan port city, past low concrete houses, distant smokestacks and the glinting Mediterranean Sea.

Libyan soldiers told a Reuters correspondent they no longer backed Gaddafi and the eastern region was out of his control.

General Soliman Mahmoud al-Obeidy said the Libyan leader was no longer 'trustworthy,' adding he decided to switch allegiances after hearing the authorities had given orders to fire on civilians in the eastern city of Benghazi.

'He bombs with airplanes and uses excessive force against unarmed people,' he told Reuters. 'I am sure he will fall in the coming few days.'

Near the main square, some battered a portrait of Gaddafi with clubs. Others smashed pieces of green painted concrete, the remnants, they said, of a statue of Gaddafi's 'Green Book.'

'There's that absurd book!' one shouted. 'There's that absurd book!'

Some burned copies of the book which was first published in 1975 and in which Gaddafi outlined the political philosophy that has underpinned his long years in power.

Naji Shelwy, 36, said: 'This is a revolution. We are not protesting and we are not doing a sit-in. We want it to be called a revolution. We have spilled more blood than in Egypt and in Tunisia.'

Libya's revolt comes hard on the heels of uprisings that have unseated the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. Abdel Monim Muftah, 24, a teacher, said: 'We want a constitution for the country and we want a parliament.'

'The first day of the protests here, the people who sell hashish and stuff like that were fighting alongside the state,' Ramadan Faraj, 19, said. 'They killed four people here and they wounded 50.'

He pointed to a banner reading, 'Down, Down with the Butcher.' 'Gaddafi wants to blow us up and leave,' Faraj said.-Reuters




Tags: UN Security Council | Libya killings |

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