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MADRID - It is up to Libyans to decide if Moamer Gathafi can remain in Libya if he gives up power,

                                                             Mahmud Jibril

Jibril stresses most important question for rebels is Libyan leader leave power in order to move to next phase.




senior Libyan rebel Mahmud Jibril said Thursday during a visit to Spain.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in Madrid Wednesday that Gathafi could remain in Libya so long as he completely gave up power, as part of a larger political deal, including a ceasefire, on the future of the country.

"I think the most important question for us is that Gathafi leave power, this is the first step," Jibril told a joint news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez when asked about the French proposal.

"When we get that step secured first then we can move to the next phase, deciding where he can stay and what kind of arrangements are needed. Who is going to decide is the Libyan people themselves," he added.

"If he is not ready to step down then we are talking about cosmetic reforms within the current regime. That is a waste of the blood that has been spilled over the past five months. We are not interested in that."

Jibril is the diplomatic chief of the National Transitional Council (NTC), a political body created by the rebels.

Libya has been wracked by a civil war since a violent uprising against Gathafi, in power for more than four decades, swept the country five months ago.

Spain is taking part in a NATO-coordinated operation against Gathafi's military assets and has formally recognised the NTC.

While the NATO bombing campaign has managed to prevent the fall of opposition-held cities such as Benghazi and Mistrata, it has not been able to dislodge Gathafi's regime.

Jimenez said Gathafi was "more isolated than ever, both internally and internationally" but she stressed it was up to the Libyan people to decide his fate.

"It is the Libyan people, Libyan society, the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people, who ultimately decide what is the formula that is used to ensure that Gathafi leaves power," she said.




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