Conflict & Justice

Libya: ultimatum given to Gaddafi's loyalists


Libyan rebels flash the victory sign as they drive through a seaside road in Tripoli at sunset on August 26, 2011. Libyan rebels, who overran Tripoli a few days ago, are intent on finding Muammar Gaddafi so they can proclaim final victory in an uprising that began six months ago.


Filippo Monteforte

Libya's interim leaders have given forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi an ultimatum to surrender towns still under their control. The leaders said Tuesday that Gaddafi's loyalists have until Saturday to surrender or they will face military action.

National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdul Jalil said the ultimatum is targeted at Gaddafi's loyalists in Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown, and other towns, BBC reports. The interim leaders are trying to consolidate their power and hold over the country.

More from GlobalPost: Gaddafi's wife and children flee

"By Saturday, if there are no peaceful indications for implementing this, we will decide this matter militarily. We do not wish to do so but we cannot wait longer," Jalil told a news conference, Reuters reports.

The anti-Gaddafi forces have converged on Sirte but are hoping to use the ultimatum to avoid an all-out military offensive, it states.

The ultimatum comes after news that Gaddafi's wife and three of his children fled to neighboring Algeria.

The NTC accused Algeria of an act of aggression for accepting Gaddafi's family. However, Algerian officials denied their move Tuesday.

Algeria's United Nations envoy, Mourad Benmehidi, told the BBC there was a "holy rule of hospitality" in the region and therefore Algeria, which borders Libya to the west, was obliged to provide assistance.

"In fact in many parts of the Sahara region it's mandatory by law to provide assistance to anyone in the desert," he said.

Bloomberg reports that Algeria has maintained a policy of "strict neutrality” during the upheaval in Libya.

The flight by Gaddafi's family to Algeria represents a surrender by the family to rebel forces, the New York Times reports. However, Gaddafi himself and some of his sons remain at large.