Libyan diplomats abandon Qaddafi

Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy ambassador at the United Nations, speaks to reporters at the entrance to the Libyan Mission in New York Feb. 21, 2011. AP

UNITED NATIONS - Key Western nations urged the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to demand an immediate end to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's bloody crackdown on civilian protesters and strongly condemn the violence.

The U.N.'s most powerful body met behind closed doors Tuesday morning to discuss possible council action, most likely a press statement agreed by all 15 members, as key Libyan diplomats around the world disowned Qaddafi's regime.

Complete coverage: Anger in the Arab world
Qaddafi's iron grip on Libya tested by turmoil

Germany's U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig told reporters as he headed into the meeting that his country wants "a swift and clear message of the council."

Several Western diplomats said at a minimum they want a council statement Tuesday condemning the violence against Libyan civilians, demanding an immediate end to the crackdown, and calling on all parties to act with restraint, and respect human rights and international law. They also want the council to demand full protection for foreign nationals and access for humanitarian assistance and human rights monitors, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the consultations were private.

Brazil, which holds the council presidency this month, called the meeting after receiving a letter from Libya's deputy U.N. ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, who signed it as "charge d'affaires," meaning he was running Libya's U.N. Mission. Diplomats said there was some question of whether he was, in fact, in charge but Germany, a non-permanent council member, said it would call for consultations if there was a question.

Dabbashi on Monday urged Qaddafi to step down and warned that if he doesn't leave, "the Libyan people will get rid of him."

Libyan U.N. diplomats: Qaddafi should resign

The Libyan ambassador to the United States also urged Qaddafi to step down, the ambassador to India resigned as did the ambassador to Bangladesh who protested the killing of family members by government troops.

Protesters, meanwhile, gathered at some Libyan embassies around the world, including those in Sweden and Serbia. In Stockholm, they were allowed into the embassy, where they raised the flag of the monarchy that was toppled by Qaddafi's military coup in 1969.

Almost all Libyan diplomats at the United Nations backed Dabbashi's pleas to Qaddafi to end his 40-year rule and to the international community to intervene.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Beverly Hills, California, that he hopes "the Security Council will take this matter on an urgent basis."

Ban said it was up to the Security Council to decide whether to call for a "no-fly zone" over Libya to protect protesters from attacks by Libyan aircraft.

Qaddafi's security forces unleashed the most deadly crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, with reports Monday that demonstrators were being fired at from helicopters and warplanes. After seven days of protests and deadly clashes in Libya's eastern cities, the eruption of turmoil in the capital, Tripoli, sharply escalated the challenge to Qaddafi.

Ban said he had spoken to Qaddafi on Monday for 40 minutes and "forcefully urged him to stop violence against demonstrators and again strongly underlined the importance of respecting the human rights of those demonstrators."

Ban expressed outrage at what he described as "very disturbing and shocking scenes" of Libyan authorities firing at demonstrators from warplanes and helicopters.

"This is unacceptable. This must stop immediately. This is a serious violation of international humanitarian law," Ban told reporters at a hotel in Beverly Hills.

Libya's ambassador to the United States called for Qaddafi to step down and asked the international community to condemn strongly the regime's violent crackdown.

"There's no other solution. He should step down and give the chance for the people to make their future," Ambassador Ali Aujali said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Aujali added: "How can I support the government killing our people? ... What I have seen in front of my eyes now is not acceptable at all."

Aujali, who has been Libya's ambassador to the United States since 2009, said he was not resigning his post, because he is part of the "good side" of the Libyan government and not part of the killing.

"There are many people working very hard to make things work in the right way but, unfortunately, we don't have enough power that we can change everything going on in Libya," he said.

Dabbashi, the deputy U.N. ambassador, also said he and the U.N. diplomats were not resigning because they served the people of Libya and not the regime.

Libya's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham was not present at Dabbashi's press conference. He told the U.N. correspondent for the pan-Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat, that all diplomats at Libya's mission supported Dabbashi "excluding me." Shalgham said he was in touch with the Qaddafi government and was trying "to persuade them to stop these acts."

Libya's ambassador to Bangladesh, A.H. Elimam, resigned late Monday to protest the killing of family members by government soldiers in Libya, said a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue, and provided no other details.

In India, Libyan Ambassador Ali al-Essawi told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he had resigned his post, effective Tuesday. "The authorities are killing peaceful people, which is not acceptable," al-Essawi said.

Libya's ambassador to Indonesia was quoted in the English-language Jakarta Post as saying he has resigned. "Soldiers are killing unarmed civilians mercilessly. Using heavy weaponry, fighter jets and mercenaries against its own people. It is not acceptable," Salaheddin M. El Bishari said. Repeated phone calls to the Libyan Embassy in the capital, Jakarta, went unanswered.

Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, who resigned Sunday as Libya's ambassador to the Arab League in Cairo, demanded that Qaddafi and his commanders and aides be put on trial for "the mass killings in Libya."

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