Libyan dictator Muammer Gaddafi may be allowed to stay in the country if he gives up power and that's what the people of the country want, says the British foreign secretary.
In a sign that Britain may be reviewing its strategy in desperate hopes to break the stalemate in the conflict, William Hague, the UK foreign secretary, has said that although Gaddafi must hand over power, he may not have to leave the country, The Financial Times reports.
Hague was speaking on Monday evening in London alongside Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister.
As British aircraft step up the bombing campaign against Gaddafi's security and intelligence apparatus before Ramadan begins on 1 August, Hague said the focus should be on ensuring that the Libyan leader leaves power, The Guardian reports.
"He must never again be able to threaten the lives of Libyan civilians nor to destabilize Libya once he has left power.
"Obviously, leaving Libya itself would be the best way of showing the Libyan people they no longer have to live in fear of Gaddafi. But as I have said all along, this is ultimately a question for Libyans to determine," it reports.
The U.K. government has been locked in battle for five months supporting anti-government rebels.
The British armed forces have already warned that the deployment there is stretched given commitments in Afghanistan and will not sustain a prolonged conflict, Financial Times reports.
The FT reports:
Mr Hague, speaking on Monday evening in London alongside Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister, said that whether or not Colonel Gaddafi stayed in Libya was “ultimately a question for the Libyans”.
“It is for the Libyan people to determine their own future. Whatever happens, Gaddafi must leave power,” Mr Hague said.
Mr Juppé this month confirmed the existence of “unofficial contacts” between the Libyan regime and members of the Nato-led coalition. Under discussion was the idea that Col Gaddafi could be allowed to remain in the country on the understanding that he stepped down, according to people familiar with the negotiations.
Mr Hague appeared to endorse this possibility, suggesting that while the leader’s departure from Libya “would be the best way of showing the Libyan people they no longer have to live in fear of Gaddafi,” this was for the local people, and not the coalition forces, to decide.
However, the foreign secretary would not comment on the implications for the International Criminal Court – which has issued an arrest warrant for Col Gaddafi – if the Libyan leader was to remain in his home country.
Juppé agreed with Hague that Col Gaddafi would have to abandon “all military and civil responsibility”, and then it would be “for the Libyan people themselves to decide what [his] fate will be either inside Libya or outside Libya”, FT reports.