The news that Moammar Gaddafi accepted a cease-fire plan from the African Union makes the rebel response nearly inevitable. The BBS reports that a big crowd in Benghazi protested the proposal, which would have required an end to NATO air strikes, while keeping Gaddafi in place to negotiate terms with the rebels. That’s a deal-killer, the rebels say:
Libya’s rebel leadership in Benghazi has rejected a proposal put forward by an African Union delegation to end the eight-week conflict.
The AU said Col Muammar Gaddafi had accepted the plan on Sunday. However, on Monday, his forces attacked the besieged western city of Misrata.
The rebels said they were rejecting the truce because it did not include plans for Col Gaddafi to step down.
The US, the UK and Italy have again said the Libyan leader must leave.
The AP offered this video report of the truce proposal prior to its rejection by the rebels (via The Week):
Of course Gaddafi approved this idea. It leaves him in power and gives him a way to marginalize the rebels while he has them on the ropes. And for those same reasons, there is no possible way that the rebels could accept this plan, especially with its requirement to end what little support NATO can provide. Without the air cover, Gaddafi would simply start rolling his heavy armor out again and position himself for the finale to the civil war. Even if Gaddafi abided by restrictions on movements of armor — if any were part of this proposal — the rebels know full well that any result that leaves Gaddafi in power means their deaths.
This is simply an unserious proposal from an almost-consistently unserious African Union, the same group that has spent years giving tyrant Robert Mugabe a wide berth in Zimbabwe. They have yet to meet a murderous, psychopathic despot that they couldn’t somehow support.