NATO Pounds Tripoli, Rebels Reject Election Offer

Posted June 16th, 2011 at 10:10 pm (UTC-5)
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NATO fighter jets bombed targets near Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's Tripoli compound Thursday after his son said Mr. Gadhafi was willing to hold elections and step aside if he lost.

That offer was rejected by rebels and the United States.

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi told an Italian newspaper Thursday the vote could take place within three months and transparency could be guaranteed by international observers.

An opposition spokesman told al-Jazeera television the time for elections had passed “because our forces are at the outskirts of Tripoli.” A U.S. State Department official also dismissed the idea.

Earlier Thursday, Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov told reporters in Tripoli that Libyan officials had assured him direct contacts between the government and rebels based in the eastern stronghold Benghazi were underway.

But Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi insisted Mr. Gadhafi will not bow to international pressure to push him aside.

A series of thunderous booms rocked the capital city late Thursday. Earlier NATO airstrikes had hit targets near Mr. Gadhafi's Bab-al-Aziziya compound.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Mr. Gadhafi's security forces of using rape and violence against women as tools of war.

She said the United States is “deeply troubled” by reports that governments across the Middle East and North Africa are using sexual violence to punish protesters. Clinton said such acts violate “basic human dignity” and urged “immediate, transparent investigations” into the allegations.

International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said last week the ICC had evidence the Libyan authorities bought “Viagra-type” medicines and gave them to troops as part of an official rape policy.

Meanwhile, Italy said it will host a meeting of up to 300 Libyan tribal leaders to help promote reconciliation.

Spain is ejecting Libyan ambassador Ageli Abdussalam Ali Breni and three embassy staffers from the country. The Spanish government announced the decision on Thursday, saying Mr. Gadhafi's regime has lost its legitimacy.