UN Chief Calls Gadhafi to Demand Immediate End to Violence in Libya

In extensive telephone conversation, Ban urges Libya leader to respect basic freedoms and human rights; Libya mission to UN declares allegiance to demonstrators.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Libyan President Muammer Ghadafi on Monday and urged to respect the basic freedoms and rights of his people, amid the bloody unrest that has swept the country over the last seven days.

Ban held an extensive phone conversation with Gadhafi to discuss the deteriorating situation in Libya, where some 332 people have reportedly died in clashes with forces loyal to the long-time leader.

Libya pro-Gadhafi supporters

The secretary-general expressed to Gadhafi "deep concern at the escalating scale of violence and emphasized that it must stop immediately", Ban's office said in a statement following the discussion." He reiterated his call for respect for basic freedoms and human rights, including peaceful assembly and information."

The secretary general also "underlined the need to ensure the protection of the civilian population under any circumstances", said the statement. "He urged exercise restraint and called upon the authorities to engage in broad-based dialogue to address legitimate concerns of the population."

The staff of Libya's mission to the United Nations has meanwhile declared allegiance to the people of Libya, instead of to the Gadhafi government, a mission spokesman said on Monday.

"The members of the Libyan mission are representing only the Libyan people and not anyone else," the spokesman, Dia al-Hotmani, said by telephone.

Hotmani said that at a meeting on Monday at offices in New York, members of the mission "expressed our sense of concern about the genocide going on in Libya."
"We are not seeing any reaction from the international community," he added.

Hotmani said he was speaking on behalf of all members of the Libyan mission up to the deputy permanent representative, Ibrahim Dabbashi. He declined comment on the attitude or whereabouts of the permanent representative, Abdurrahman Shalgham.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa also expressed deep concern on Monday over the situation in Libya, urged an immediate halt to violence and called for talks, not confrontation.

"We are faced with new circumstances in the region and these circumstances demand dialogue and not confrontation," he said.

"We are deeply concerned about the current circumstances in Libya and we are following the events with deep worry," he added.

EU foreign ministers said earlier Monday that they would prepare for the possible evacuation of European citizens from Libya, a day after condemning the violent crackdown on demonstrations.

The EU does not have the power to order its member states to evacuate their citizens from a foreign country, but ministers can agree on coordinated action in such cases.

The United States has meanwhile advised all non-emergency personnel to leave Libya, warning that demonstrations, violence and looting were possible during the next several days.

The violence Libya has escalated over the last few days, with clashes spilling from the eastern city of Benghazi to the capital of Tripoli. At least 50 people were reportedly killed on Sunday alone.