UN Security Council Votes to End NATO Libya Mission

Posted October 27th, 2011 at 10:00 pm (UTC-5)
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The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to lift the no-fly zone over Libya at the end of this month, a move that will simultaneously terminate the mandate for NATO's mission in the North African country.

The 15-member council said the mandate will end at one minute to midnight local time on October 31.

The NATO mission was terminated despite calls from Libyan officials for it to be extended at least until the end of the year due to security concerns.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed the decision of the council, which had become sharply divided over NATO intervention in a civil war that went on much longer than Western nations had expected.

Seven months ago, the Security Council authorized NATO to enforce a no-fly zone and take “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians from government forces as then-leader Moammar Gadhafi moved to crush a growing uprising against his rule.

Also Thursday, officials in Niger said Gadhafi's intelligence chief, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, is now in the west African nation of Mali.

The officials, who did not want to be identified, said Abdullah al-Senussi passed through Niger and into the Malian desert with the help of ethnic Tuaregs, who supported Gadhafi during his time in power.

The ex-spy chief and Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, both fled Libya recently as anti-Gadhafi forces seized the late ruler's last strongholds. Officials say the location of Seif al-Islam Gadhafi is unknown, though he is also believed to be travelling through the Sahara.

The ICC wants both al-Senussi and Gadhafi's son on charges of crimes against humanity. The court issued warrants for their arrest in June.

In South Africa, media reports said a plane was on standby there to fly north and rescue Seif al-Islam along with a group of South Africans mercenaries working for him. NTC officials say South Africans may have been among those killed in Sirte last week when Moammar Gadhafi was caught and killed.

Other media reports say South Africans have also been involved in transporting Gadhafi's gold, diamonds and foreign currency to Niger, and helping his wife and three of his children flee Tripoli.

Meanwhile, Libya's National Transitional Council said Thursday it will prosecute Gadhafi's killers if an investigation shows he died after his capture by provisional government fighters.

NTC leaders have been under intense pressure to investigate the circumstances of Gadhafi's death last week after initially saying he was killed in crossfire after being pulled from a drainage pipe.

Video showing a wounded Gadhafi in the custody of revolutionary forces has raised concerns about the manner of his death as anti-Gadhafi fighters took over his hometown of Sirte.

Libya's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said Wednesday that initial reports show no transitional fighters shot at Gadhafi after he was arrested. Dabbashi told the U.N. Security Council the ousted leader was bleeding from his abdomen and head when he was arrested, and that he died after arriving at a hospital in Misrata.