|LIBYA: Ban Ki-Moon calls on Security
Council for decisive action
BBC - United
Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the global
body’s Security Council to take “decisive action” over the
He said violations of human rights had been carried out by
Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, and more than 1,000 had died.
In Libya, reports say anti-government protesters in the
capital Tripoli came under heavy gunfire on Friday.
Witnesses reported deaths and injuries as militiamen and
government troops confronted protesters as they emerged from
mosques following Friday prayers and started demonstrating
in several areas of the city.
At the same time, Libyan state TV showed Colonel Gaddafi
speaking from the Tripoli’s old city ramparts, urging the
crowd to arm themselves and defend the nation and its oil
against the anti-Gaddafi elements who have taken control of
large parts of the country.
“We shall destroy any aggression with popular will,” he
said. “With the armed people, when necessary we will open
the weapons depots. So that all the Libyan people, all the
Libyan tribes can be armed. Libya will become a red flame, a
The US sanctions announced late on Friday by President Obama
block transactions involving assets of Col Gaddafi and
several close family members.
“These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafi government,
while protecting the assets that belong to the people of
Libya,” Obama said in a statement.
Earlier, at a hastily organised news conference at the UN in
New York, Libyan deputy ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi
described Col Gaddafi, who has been in power for 42 years,
as a “madman”. He warned that thousands would die in Tripoli
because the Libyan leader would never flee and would fight
to the end. Much of the east of the country is in the hands
of anti-Gaddafi protesters and units of the Libyan military
that have crossed over to them. Ban said 22,000 people had
fled Libya via Tunisia, and a further 15,000 via Egypt.
“Much larger numbers are trapped and unable to leave,” he
added. “There are widespread reports of refugees being
harassed and threatened with guns and knives.”
He said it was important for neighbouring countries,
including those in Europe, to keep their borders open to
those fleeing the violence.
Ban also said that there was a food crisis inside Libya that
the UN World Food Programme (WFP) expected to worsen. The
WFP says Libya’s food supply chain is at risk of collapse
because imports have not been getting into the country and
food distribution is hampered by violence.
Diplomats at the UN Security Council say Britain and France
have drawn up a draft resolution with a package of measures
aimed at isolating Libya’s political and military leaders.
As well as targeted sanctions, this could include an arms
embargo, and a proposed referral of the situation in Libya
to the International Criminal Court.
The BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen has entered the
Libyan capital at the invitation of the Libyan government.
|OBAMA IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON KADHAFI
|WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama on Friday
imposed personal sanctions on Libya’s Moamer Kadhafi and
four of his sons, in a clear attempt to further weaken his
teetering regime and punish brutal assaults against his
Obama wielded presidential power in an executive order to
seize the assets of Kadhafi and named family members in the
United States and globally within the auspices of US
financial institutions, saying the “human dignity” of
Libyans “cannot be denied.”
Washington also shuttered its Tripoli embassy, warned its
spies were seeking evidence of “atrocities” in Libya and
said that Kadhafi had lost the confidence of his people, in
an apparent broad hint that Washington wanted him gone.
Officials said the US sanctions were a direct attempt to
prevent any looting of Libya’s assets and sovereign wealth
by Kadhafi and his sons amid turmoil which reports said has
killed over 1,000 people and split the country.
Privately, sources said, Washington hoped the measures would
encourage defections from the regime.
The move also came on the eve of a UN Security Council
meeting to consider multilateral sanctions on the Kadhafi
government, and after the Libyan strongman warned of a
looming battle in Tripoli to protect his four-decades-old
“By any measure, Moamer Kadhafi’s government has violated
international norms and common decency and must be held
accountable,” Obama said in a statement.
|NZealand quake toll surges to 145 dead
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, (AFP) - New Zealand’s
earthquake death toll surged to 145 Saturday with grave
fears for another 200 missing, in what Prime Minister John
Key said could be the nation’s greatest tragedy.
Police said 145 bodies had been recovered after Tuesday’s
6.3-magnitude quake left large parts of the nation’s second
city Christchurch in ruins, and warned the toll could rise
The disaster “may be New Zealand’s single most tragic
event”, Key said Saturday after meeting relatives of the
dead and missing during a visit to Christchurch.
“I think it’s fair to say they (relatives) fear the worst
but there is still a glimmer of hope,” he said. “They are
full of fear because a significant period of time has
The earthquake currently rates as New Zealand’s second
deadliest disaster after a 1931 tremor killed 256 people in
the Hawke’s Bay region.
Key also announced two minutes’ silence to honour the
victims of the disaster next Tuesday, exactly a week after
the quake struck.
Rescuers toiling in the rubble have not pulled out anyone
alive since the day after the quake. They believe many
victims are buried in Christchurch’s damaged cathedral, and
the ruins of two office buildings.
“The number of missing people reported for which we have
grave concerns remains at more than 200,” police district
commander Dave Cliff said Saturday.
Earlier, officials said one-third of Christchurch’s city
centre faces demolition after an earthquake killed at least
123, and warned it may be unable to host the Rugby World
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee urged the
stricken city to be “realistic” about holding World Cup
matches in September and October after the 6.3-magnitude
quake caused widespread damage, including to the rugby
“To lose the Rugby World Cup from Christchurch would be a
massive blow,” Brownlee told TVNZ. “I don’t want to see it
happen but we’ve got to be realistic about the prospect.”
Rugby-mad Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-largest city,
is one of the main venues for the seven-week competition,
and is slated to hold two quarter-finals on October 8 and 9.
But Tuesday’s quake reduced much of the city centre and some
suburbs into ruins. Although Stadium Christchurch has only
minor damage, the pitch has been hit by liquifaction, when
soil becomes a quagmire due to the ground’s shaking.
Stadium officials also reported serious damage around the
venue, which is just two kilometres (just over a mile) from
the rubble-strewn city centre -- where Christchurch’s
biggest hotel is tottering and in danger of collapse.
On Saturday, engineers said as much as a third of the
central district, where office buildings folded like packs
of cards and entire streets lost their shop frontages, may
be demolished and rebuilt. “We’ve collected some data over
the past couple of days and it’s looking like about
one-third of the buildings (would be condemned),” Auckland
University structural engineer Jason Ingham told TVNZ.
“We will have to prune this city and we’ll have to prune it
hard,” city mayor Bob Parker told Sky News. “Entire blocks
are going to have to go.” Earthquake minister Brownlee said
the centre may be closed for months. Power has now been
restored to most of the city but many of its 390,000
residents are without water and relying on supplies brought
Officials said more than 62,000 homes have no water
supplies and 100,000 properties are without sewerage, while
800 portable toilets will soon be in place to help ward off
the threat of disease.
Despite a major international search operation involving
some 700 specialist personnel, no signs of life have been
detected in the quake wreckage since Wednesday, when the
last of about 70 survivors was rescued.
|Iran rejects IAEA
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran on Saturday rejected concerns
expressed in a new report by the UN watchdog, the
International Atomic Energy Agency, raising concerns about a
possible military dimension to its nuclear programme.
“The important point is that the full detailed report
regarding all our nuclear activities show full supervision
by the IAEA and no deviation to prohibited ends,” the state
news agency IRNA quoted Iran’s envoy to the agency, Ali
Asghar Soltanieh, as saying.
“For the 26th time, the IAEA confirmed the peaceful nature
of our nuclear programme,” Soltanieh insisted.
In a restricted report, the watchdog said on Friday that
Iran was still refusing “to discuss a number of outstanding
issues related to possible military dimensions to its
Tehran insists its programme is entirely peaceful.
But Western governments suspect it is cover for a weapons
drive and have compiled evidence that it was involved in
weaponisation studies -- work which included uranium
conversion, high explosives testing and the adaptation of a
ballistic missile cone to carry a nuclear warhead -- at
least until 2003.
Iran has dismissed the evidence as “fabricated” and refused
to discuss the “alleged studies” any further.
Nevertheless, “additional information ... has come to the
(agency’s) attention since August 2008, including new
information recently received” that prompted “further
concerns,” the IAEA report said.
“Iran is not engaging with the agency in substance on issues
concerning the allegation that Iran is developing a nuclear
payload for its missile programme,” the report said.
Iran is under four sets of UN sanctions for pursuing its
controversial uranium enrichment programme despite repeated
Security Council ultimatums to freeze it.
Soltanieh also took the opportunity to dismiss the UN
resolutions against Iran, saying they “have no legal basis
and so cannot be implemented.”
|While Western governments scramble to craft a
Prepare to defend the city, Kadhafi
tells cheering supporters
TRIPOLI (AFP) - An increasingly embattled Moamer Kadhafi
said he would throw open Libya’s arsenals to his supporters
in a rabble-rousing speech on Friday that presaged a bloody
battle for the capital.
In a brief but chilling address in Tripoli’s Green Square,
Kadhafi told hundreds of cheering supporters to prepare
themselves for a fight to defend the city.
Libya’s envoy to the United Nations, Mohammed Shalgham, a
childhood friend of Kadhafi, became the latest official to
abandon him, with a diplomat saying he had joined his deputy
Ibrahim Dabbashi in defecting.
“Please, the United Nations, save Libya. Let there be no
bloodshed, no killing of innocents. We want a decisive,
rapid and courageous resolution from you,” Shalgham told the
Kadhafi loyalists had earlier killed several people in
shootings that spread through Tripoli, and French President
Nicolas Sarkozy became the first world leader to openly
demand his ouster.
As outraged Western governments scrambled to craft a
collective response to a bloody crackdown which has claimed
hundreds of lives, the United States said it was moving
ahead with sanctions against the regime.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order, seizing
assets and blocking any property in the United States
belonging to Kadhafi or his four sons.
In a statement, Obama said the measures were specifically
targeted against the Kadhafi government and not the wealth
of the Libyan people themselves.
The European Union agreed to slap an arms embargo, asset
freezes and travel bans on Libya.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday demanded decisive action by
the Security Council against Kadhafi’s bloody crackdown,
warning that any delay would add to the growing death toll
which he said now came to over 1,000.
Ban’s call and an emotional speech by the Libyan ambassador
to the United Nations -- in which he raised the spectre of
Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot -- jolted the council into
ordering a special meeting on Saturday to consider a
sanctions resolution against Kadhafi. Britain, France,
Germany and the United States have drawn up a resolution
which says the attacks on civilians could amount to crimes
against humanity. It calls for an arms embargo and a travel
ban and assets freeze against Kadhafi and his entourage.