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Amid threat of European strikes, Libya declares cease-fire

by Jorge Hernandez on March 18, 2011

Libya has been in an upheaval for the past few weeks as rebels have attempted to overthrow the dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who has ruled the country for more than 40 years after a military coup. 

The fighting has become intense and bloody over the past few days as state forces have attempted to drive the rebel forces out of major cities, but the country rather abruptly announced a cease-fire, perhaps in part due to a recent United Nations resolution to mobilize forces to strike Libya.

Both Britain and France are planning to use military force on the oil-rich African nation. The two countries, along with Lebanon, were originally expected to only issue a no-fly resolution, but instead decided to initiate "Chapter Seven status" for Libya. This allows nations to intervene on the behalf of the citizens of the war-torn county.

There are some critics of the plan.

"It's very strange and unreasonable that the Security Council would allow the use of military power, and there are signs that this might indeed take place," Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa said, The Los Angeles Times reports. "This goes clearly against the U.N. charter and is a violation of the national sovereignty of Libya."

While some officials in Libya are championing the domestic responses to humanitarian needs, two separate groups from the UN have been unable to verify whether or not the affected civilians in the conflict are receiving the necessary aid. Aid organizations such as Doctors Without Borders have not been allowed to enter the country and government workers are preventing other groups from witnessing some of the effects of the rebellion.

It is hard to tell whether Libya's cease-fire will affect the decision by the United Nations to initiate air strikes and other measures of intervention.

British Prime Minister David Cameron seemed skeptical, telling the BBC, "We will judge [Gaddafi] by his actions, not his words." 

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