France rules out Libya military intervention

Western military action against Islamist fighters in southern Libya has been ruled out by France, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Monday.
The announcement essentially rebuffs an appeal for intervention from neighboring Niger, but Fabius said the Western powers were drawing up plans to help the Libyan government deal with the issue.
“No, an intervention, no (that’s not being discussed),” Fabius told RTL radio. “But we are going to have an international meeting in Rome at the beginning of March to give Libya more help because it’s true that there are terrorists gathering in the south.

Fabius said Britain, Germany, the United States, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia were all involved in talks on how to help Libya.

“We have to fight terrorism everywhere,” Fabius said. “That does not mean we have to have people on the ground, it means we have to help governments that want to get rid of terrorism, which is the case with the Libyan government.”

Niger last week called on the West to finish the job they started in Libya by dealing with the Islamists who have established bases in the south since the 2011 overthrow of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

A poor but mineral-rich former French colony, Niger has had to contend with numerous Islamist attacks and kidnappings on its own soil, some of which have threatened the security of its uranium production.

In an annual intelligence report published in December, the United States said southern Libya had become an “incubator” for terrorism in a “hothouse” region and described a possible intervention as “within the bounds of the possible,” according to Agence France-Presse.

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Revealed: Secret MI6 plan to spirit Gaddafi out of Libya so he could live out his days beyond the reach of international courts

The British government drew up plans to whisk Colonel Gaddafi out of Libya and allow him to live out his days in another African country, it was reported last night.

The MI6 plan would have placed the dictator ‘in retirement’ and out of the reach of international law in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

It was regarded as an option for ending the devastation and loss of life during the rebel uprising and subsequent international assault by Nato forces including Britain in 2011.

During the fighting, Andrew Mitchell, the then International Development Secretary, went to the notoriously corrupt West African country to build contacts with the regime, it was reported.

When contacted by the Mail last night Mr Mitchell declined to comment. However it is known that he attended an African Union meeting in Equatorial Guinea on behalf of the Government to drum up support for its policy on intervention in Libya.

The conference took place in June 2011 in the capital, Malabo.

Asked last night about the report, an intelligence source conceded he was ‘not unfamiliar’ with the suggestion of such a plan.

The belief at the time was that it was an option that Equatorial Guinea might have been prepared to accept.

Members of Gaddafi’s immediate family, including his second wife and three children, fled to Algeria during the conflict carrying some of the regime’s vast wealth in gold bars.
As the conflict ended, Gaddafi disappeared only to be killed in October 2011 as he tried to flee to neighbouring Niger.

The details of the Gaddafi exit strategy are disclosed in ‘In It Together’ by Matthew d’Ancona about the Coalition Government. The book is being serialised by the Daily Telegraph.

He writes that the plan was drawn up during the bombing campaign by US, British, French and other forces in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. British officials considered whether he could remain in Libya but this was ruled out because it would face opposition from rebels on the National Transitional Council.

He writes: ‘There were signs that the Colonel might accept some form of internal exile – as long as he were allowed an adequate protection force to ensure his security.’

‘Not surprisingly, this was dismissed as impractical.’

The Cabinet Office and MI6 then ‘prepared an exit strategy for Gaddafi in case it was necessary to strike a deal and to end the conflict.’
Equatorial Guinea ‘was chosen as a prospective retirement home’.

Mr Mitchell, the book claims, ‘was able to assist the officials tasked with these delicate contingency plans, helping make the necessary contacts in the capital, Malabo, and elsewhere’.

The 50-car convoy carrying Gaddafi and his retinue was bombed by French fighter planes and then cornered by rebel fighters. The dictator was tortured and killed.

It has been claimed that he was under escort from a group of South African mercenaries at the time, and that the escape attempt had the tacit support of Western countries.

Equatorial Guinea was the subject of an attempted coup in 2004 led by the old Etonian Simon Mann.

The so-called ‘Wonga Coup’ was disrupted when a group of mercenaries was arrested in Zimbabwe prior to entering the country.

Had Gaddafi made it to Equatorial Guinea, international prosecutors would have been unable to put him on trial for the abuses against his people during his 42-year reign.

Placing dictators in ‘retirement’ is not without precedent. Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator, fled his country in 1979 and lived out the rest of his life in Saudi Arabia.


Over 50 arrests after Malaysia clashes

Malaysian forces have been widening their hunt for armed followers of a Philippine sultan who have been staking a territorial claim in the eastern state of Sabah.
Malaysia has said previously that clashes between the gunmen and its security forces had left 60 people dead and has rejected a call by the fighters’ leader for a ceasefire in a farming region where the militants were being pursued.3 Suisses - VIP
In announcing the arrests, federal police chief Ismail Omar said on Friday they had all occurred in other areas of the state of Sabah, outside the battlezone where the militants and armed forces were facing off.
“Outside the operation area, police already arrested certain suspects who we believe have links to the invaders,” Ismail said.
He said more than 50 had been arrested, including men and women.
He declined to give any further details on the identities of those arrested, including whether they were foreigners or Malaysians.
Scores of followers of the self-proclaimed Philippine sultan landed in the state on Borneo island in February to assert a long-dormant territorial claim in what has become Malaysia’s worst security crisis in years.


Opposition protests turn deadly in Bangladesh

At least two killed and dozens hurt during opposition rallies demanding care-taker system to oversee next year’s pollsPolice in Bangladesh have fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters staging blockades across the country as part of an opposition campaign for an independent caretaker administration to oversee next year’s national election.

At least two people were killed and dozens hurt across Bangladesh on Sunday when police and ruling party activists clashed with opposition protesters.

Police and witnesses said supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, and its allies set ablaze about 30 buses, trucks and cars in the capital Dhaka and other parts of the country.

Demonstrators threw scores of small hand-made bombs, burnt tyres and vehicles.

“We are trying to contain the battles between activists and police, which has prevented movement of vehicles and forced residents from the streets,” a police officer said.

Police in the capital arrested about 50 people for using violence, Masudur Rahman, Dhaka police spokesman, said.

About 10,000 police were deployed to try to keep highways open in the country, but officials said traffic on many roads grounded to a halt, including the highway from Dhaka to the main port of Chittagong.

“We allowed peaceful protests. But once they started attacking cars and buses and throwing cocktail bombs, we used non-lethal weapons such as rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them,” Imtiaz Ahmed, deputy police commissioner of Dhaka, said.

Police said one person died in a knife attack as protesters from the main opposition BNP and supporters of the ruling Awami League party clashed in the old part of Dhaka.

A second man was killed in the northwestern town of Enayetpur, the police said.

Constitutional amendment

Police also clashed with protesters in the cities of Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal and Sylhet. In the northern town of Palashbari security forces fired non-lethal shots at hundreds of protesters blocking a road, officials said.

The BNP called for Sunday’s blockade to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to restore a system of holding parliamentary elections under a non-party caretaker administration, instead of it being supervised by the party in power.

The BNP and allies including Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party, want the caretaker system to be re-instated to guard against what they say would be an attempt by Hasina’s party to rig the election results.

Hasina government over-ruled the caretaker provision in a constitutional amendment last year.

The two women, both in their mid-60s and who have served two terms each as the country’s leader, are likely to face each other again in the next election due by end of 2013.




Corruption Still Seen to Be Widespread Problem

By Jack Phillips

Communist North Korea, lawless Somalia, and war-torn Afghanistan are regarded as the most corrupt countries in the world says a new report on perceptions of corruption. Countries like Greece and Egypt are also seen to have crippling problems, according to the latest findings from Transparency International.

The new rankings did not offer much surprise, except that several countries that went through the “Arab Spring” unrest were listed as perceived to be more corrupt than they were a year prior. Egypt, the site of numerous protests and riots that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak and currently are directed at President Mohamed Morsi, slipped lower in the rankings from 112th to 118th.

Transparency International’s corruption ranking is based on how corrupt its public sector is perceived to be and is not a quantitative assessment of the incidents of corruption occurring in each country. Nonetheless, the report underscores that corruption remains a persistent and widespread problem across the world.

“Corruption destroys lives and communities, and undermines countries and institutions. It generates popular anger that threatens to further destabilize societies and exacerbate violent conflicts,” reads a release from Transparency International.

“Corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors or to get access to clean drinking water,” says the release.

Around two-thirds of the 176 ranked countries scored 50 or less out of 100.

“A growing outcry over corrupt governments forced several leaders from office last year, but as the dust has cleared it has become apparent that the levels of bribery, abuse of power, and secret dealings are still very high in many countries,” said Transparency International in a statement.

Countries perceived by their citizens to be least corrupt are Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand, which were tied for first, scoring a 90 on the metric, while Australia, Sweden, Norway, Canada, and Switzerland also ranked high. The United States was ranked 19th, scoring 73.

With a score of 36, Greece ranked last in Europe replacing Bulgaria for last place. Greece has received a number of loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Italy and Romania also ranked relatively low, scoring 42 and 44 respectively.

In Latin America, Venezuela was ranked last with a score of only 19, while Uruguay and Chile scored 72—the best in the region.

The group said that priorities in combating corruption include better measures on lobbying, political financing, and making public spending and contracting more transparent.