(Updates with creation of national council

Posted By: Pti
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Gaddafi regime crumbling, Tripoli heads for major showdown


Cairo, Feb 27 (PTI) Muammar Gaddafi clung to his graduallyshrinking territory in Libya where the opposition movementtoday formed a transitional "national council" to act as the"face of the revolution" but said it was not an interimgovernment.

Hundreds of armed anti-government forces backed by rebeltroops who control the city closest to Tripoli appear to beheading towards a siege of the Libyan capital and prepared foran expected offensive by forces loyal to the regime of68-year-old Gaddafi, who has ruled hisoil-rich nation for 41years.

As more cities fell into the hands of the opposition,the pro-democracy protesters appointed ex-justice ministerMustafa Abdel-Jalil to lead a provisional government.

Abdel-Jalil, meanwhile said he was forming a"transitional government" to replace Gaddafi''s crumblingregime.

In the eastern city of al-Baida, Jalil said the newadministration would include commanders of the regular army,many of whom had defected to the opposition, and the setup would pave the way for free and fair elections in threemonths'' time, Al Jazeera said.

The online edition of the Libya''s Quryna newspaper saidAjleil had led the formation of an interim government based inBenghazi.

Hafiz Ghoga, the spokesman for the new National LibyanCouncil formed after a meeting of Gaddafi opponents in theeastern city of Benghazi, said "the main aim of the nationalcouncil is to have a political face ... for the revolution."

"We cannot call it an transition government. It is anational council," Ghoga told a news conference after thegathering.

Ghoga described Ajleil initiative as his "personalview".

Advancing towards Gaddafi''s stronghold of Tripoli,protesters today gained control of Zawiyeh town, which is just50 km from the capital, besides taking over Misurata innorth-western Libya, Al Jazeera reported.

However, security forces loyal to Gaddafi kept a firmhold of Tripoli, which is in all probability headed for amajor showdown between the two sides.

While a major chunk of the oil-producing easternregion, including the birth place of this uprising Benghazi,now appears to be in the grip of the protesters, there werealso reports of sporadic gunfire in the capital.

In a tough message hours after the 15-member SecurityCouncil voted unanimously to slap "biting" sanctions on theregime, US President Barack Obama said that Gaddafi had lostlegitimacy to rule and should leave "now".

"The President stated that when a leader''s only meansof staying in power is to use mass violence against his ownpeople, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to dowhat is right for his country by leaving now," the White Housesaid in a statement after the telephonic conversation betweenObama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The UN action came as an exodus of foreignerscontinued in the midst of a worsening situation and growinganarchy. The UN refugee agency said that "close to 100,000people", mainly foreign migrants, have fled Libya during thepast week of turmoil.

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