Talks resume for surrender of Gaddafi bastion

AFP , Tuesday 6 Sep 2011

Negotiations resume between Gaddafi loyalist and the National Transitional Council and for the surrender of one of the last remaining bastions in Bani Walid

Libya's new authorities, the National Transitional Council (NTC), resumed talks on Tuesday with local leaders in Bani Walid, one of the last bastions of Muammar Gaddafi, bidding to end a tense standoff over the oasis town.

Negotiations for the peaceful surrender of Bani Walid, which anti-Gaddafi fighters encircled last week, had collapsed Sunday, and the latest talks were aimed at reassuring Warfalla tribesmen, elders and the local community.

"No-one will be mistreated; We shall not attack property and we shall not assault anyone," Mahmud Jibril, the number two in the National Transitional Council, told the meeting in a telephone call from Benghazi.

"God willing the negotiations will be successful," he said, calling the talks "a historic opportunity for Bani Walid and the Warfalla tribe" that dominates the region.

Representatives of Bani Walid urged Libya's new leaders to declare a general amnesty, saying that the meeting at Shishan, on the outskirts of the besieged town, had cleared the suspicions of its people.

"We are here to spare bloodshed," a Bani Walid leader, Sheikh Abdel Qadir Mayad, told the gathering.

He admitted however that there were "obstacles and doubts within the community as a result of six months of regime propaganda and media interference."

"Bani Walid has reached the stage where they realise the previous system is over. Bani Walid is with Libya, it is not an exception," said the sheikh.

Another local leader, Misgah al-Bagul, voiced similar concerns and stressed that key to the talks was the restoration of essential services, including medical care, in the town.

"We are here to stop divisions and to avoid bloodshed.

"The issue of services is very important. If after two or three days the rebels enter Bani Walid, their image will change."

The NTC's chief negotiator, Abdullah Kenshil, expressed optimism about the progress of the talks.

"The result of these talks is that our colleagues from Bani Walid met us and were reassured that we do not mean them harm and we will preserve their lives," he said.


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