Call for mass protests in Libya capital to oust Gaddafi
Libya's anti-Gaddafi opposition Thursday called for a "day of the masses" for Friday in the capital Tripoli, as the international community stepped up measures to address the escalating crisis in Libya, dpa reported.
Several prominent opposition activists were detained in a large sweep of arrests by Moamer Gaddafi's security forces in Tripoli, where the leader still maintains control, opposition newspaper Libya al-Youm reported.
Opposition forces in the capital have called for mass protests, set to begin at all the city's mosques after Friday afternoon prayers.
The European Union tripled its aid to address the refugee crisis resulting from the conflict to 30 million euros (42 million dollars), a day after it had already tripled its aid from 3 to 10 million euros.
The latest increase followed a visit EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva to the Tunisia-Libya border, where tens of thousands of people have gathered to try and flee the conflict.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi's forces and regime opponents continued to fight for control over several cities in the eastern part of the country, which is largely controlled by the rebels.
In the eastern city of al-Buraqyqa, rebels continued to repel Gaddafi's troops who were attempting to retake control of the city, Al Arabiya reported.
Clashes have been ongoing since hundreds of Gaddafi's forces attacked the city on Wednesday. At least 20 people have been killed in airstrikes by the Libyan leader's air force on the city over the course of two days.
Gaddafi's adversaries in the east are planning a march on Tripoli. More than 10,000 are undergoing military training in the eastern city of Benghazi, according to Al Arabiya.
Reports surfaced on Thursday that Gaddafi has endorsed a plan by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for mediated talks with opposition forces in the country.
Chavez's plan would see an international peace commission head to Libya to negotiate between Gaddafi and opposition groups.
While the Arab League said it would take the proposal into consideration, France said it rejected any suggestion which could lead to Gaddafi maintaining power.
"Any mediation that allows Colonel Gaddafi to succeed himself is obviously not welcome," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in response to Chavez's proposal, speaking after talks with his British counterpart William Hague.
The National Libyan Council, which seeks to give a political face to the anti-Gaddafi uprising, also rejected the proposal.
It has instead called for a no-fly zone over the country, as well as United Nations-endorsed airstrikes to target foreign mercenaries allegedly hired by Gaddafi to attack the rebels.
Violence has been ongoing in Libya since February 15, when widespread protests demanding Gaddafi's departure began.
The Libyan leader's brutal crackdown on the demonstrations has led to international condemnation and sanctions on his regime.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague on Thursday announced that it is investigating Gaddafi for crimes against humanity. The inquiry also targets Gaddafi's sons and his head of security, Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said.
"We have a mandate to do justice and we will do it. There will be no impunity in Libya," he warned.