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Libyan rebels reject ceasefire deal

Libyan rebels have rejected a ceasefire deal accepted by Muammar Gaddafi because it did not involve him stepping down.

The proposal was presented by an African Union delegation to the rebels' council in Benghazi today after they had met Gaddafi.

But council head Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the country's former justice minister, said the initiative "did not respond to the aspirations of the Libyan people."

He added that the AU proposal did not discuss Gaddafi's removal or that of his powerful sons and instead only involved political reforms.

He added that the rebels would "not negotiate on the blood of our martyrs."

After getting apparent agreement with the dictator, the African Union delegation took its proposal to the rebels' eastern stronghold but was met with protests by crowds opposed to any peace until Gaddafi gives up power.

More than 1,000 people waved the pre-Gaddafi flags that have come to symbolise the rebel movement and chanted slogans outside a Benghazi hotel. They said they had little faith in the visiting African Union mediators, most of them allies of Gaddafi who are preaching democracy for Libya but do not practice it at home.

The negotiators met Gaddafi late on Sunday in the capital, Tripoli, and said he accepted their proposal for a cease-fire with the rebels that would also include a halt to the three-week-old international campaign of airstrikes.

However, an Algerian representative of the delegation was vague on whether the proposal includes a demand for Gaddafi to give up power and would only say that the option was discussed.

The protesters in Benghazi and the opposition leadership based in the city are demanding that Gaddafi step down immediately.


From Belfast Telegraph