U.N. council plans swift end to Libya mandate

UNITED NATIONS Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:36pm EDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Security Council plans to end U.N. authorization for a no-fly zone and NATO intervention in Libya this week despite calls from Libya's government for it to wait, council envoys said on Wednesday.

Libyan Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi told the 15-nation council that Libya's people were "looking forward to terminating the no-fly zone over Libya as well as terminating the mandate accorded by Security Council resolution 1973 to protect civilians as soon as possible."

"In accordance with the initial assessments, the date of October 31 is a logical date to terminate this mandate," he said.

But he added that Libya's National Transitional Council, or NTC, had not yet made an official decision on whether to request termination of the U.N. mandate under resolution 1973, which authorized members of NATO and other U.N. member states to take "all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians.

That was why the Libyan government wanted the council to hold off on ending NATO's U.N. mandate, Dabbashi said.

"We request the council to give a chance to the NTC to take a resolution on this," he said. "This requires some days. Perhaps this will take place before the 31st of this month."

Dabbashi said the government needed more time to assess the security situation in its country and its ability to monitor its borders.

Western diplomats on the Security Council told reporters after closed-door discussions on Libya that council members planned to go ahead and terminate the U.N. mandate, thereby withdrawing NATO's authorization in Libya.

They said issues the NTC had suggested it would like NATO to help with, including border security, fell outside the U.N. mandate to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone.

"The job was to protect civilians and from NATO's point of view, that mission has been accomplished," a diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "There's no point in delaying termination of the mandate."

DABBASHI: GADDAFI WASN'T EXECUTED

France's U.N. ambassador, Gerard Araud, said an arms embargo and other sanctions on Libya still in place would not be affected by the council's move to end the no-fly zone and terminate the U.N. mandate for outside military intervention.

He added that all council members believed there would be no need for the U.N. mandate for military operations in Libya beyond Monday and planned to adopt a resolution that would formally cancel that mandate on Thursday or Friday.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who has repeatedly accused NATO of exceeding its U.N. mandate in Libya, said extending the U.N. authorization beyond Monday would be "unrealistic."

The Security Council in March authorized a no-fly zone and foreign military intervention to protect Libyans from security forces that then-leader Muammar Gaddafi had deployed to suppress pro-democracy uprisings across the country.

The council is also expected in the coming days to approve a Russian-drafted resolution voicing concern about the proliferation of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles across Libya and beyond its borders, diplomats said.

Apparently responding to calls from various senior U.N. officials for an investigation into the circumstances of the death of Gaddafi after his capture last Thursday, Dabbashi denied NTC soldiers had summarily executed him.

Gaddafi died of wounds he sustained prior to his capture, he said.

"Gaddafi was injured in the course of the clashes between his loyalists and the revolutionaries," Dabbashi said. "When he was arrested, he was bleeding from his abdomen and head and he passed away (on) his arrival to the hospital in Misrata."

"According to initial reports, none of the revolutionaries fired at him after arresting him," he said.

He added the Libyans were conducting an investigation.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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