NATO takes over Libya

Although the U.N. secretary-general said an
opposition representative would attend the summit in Ethiopia, Mustafa
Gheriani, an opposition spokesman, said Friday he knew nothing about it.

“The position of the national
council has been clear from the beginning — no negotiations,” Gheriani
said. “All he has to do is stop bombing and leave the country.”

African Union commission chairman
Jean Ping said the African Union favours an inclusive transitional period that
would lead to democratic elections.

Ping stressed the inevitability of
political reforms in Libya and called the aspirations of the Libyan people
“legitimate.”

Such a solution seemed a long way
off, and NATO’s military staff began drawing up detailed plans Friday to assume
full control of the no-fly zone over Libya in coming days.

Meanwhile, coalition warplanes
struck Moammar Gadhafi’s forces outside the strategic eastern gateway city of
Ajdabiya.

The overnight French and British
strikes on an artillery battery and armoured vehicles were intended to give a
measure of relief to Ajdabiya, where residents have fled or cowered under more
than a week of shelling and fighting between rebels and government troops.

Planning for NATO’s no-fly
operation over Libya assumes a mission lasting 90 days, but this could be
extended or shortened as required, a NATO official said.

NATO officials said the mission was
expected to involve dozens of aircraft from the 28-nation military alliance.

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Rebel fighters take cover during a shelling along the Benghazi -Ajdabiyah road near Ajdabiyah, Thursday.
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