Qaddafi could stay in Libya if he quits: France

France accepts Muammar Qaddafi could stay in Libya if he quits politics, under a ceasefire deal to end a conflict with rebels backed by Paris, the French foreign minister said on Wednesday.

“One of the possibilities being considered is that he stay in Libya but on the clear condition that he steps aside from Libyan political life,” the minister, Alain Juppe, told LCI television.

“That is what we are waiting for before we start the political process for a ceasefire,” he added. “The ceasefire comes about by a formal and clear commitment by Qaddafi to give up his civil and military responsibilities.”

France is taking part in NATO-coordinated strikes against Qaddafi’s military assets and was the first outside state to formally recognise the rebels’ Transitional National Council.

Libyan rebel military leaders from the city of Misrata were due to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday seeking extra aid for their fight, a source close to their delegation told AFP on Tuesday.

Sarkozy will host General Ramadan Zarmuhwith, Colonel Ahmed Hashem and Suleiman Fortia, a local leader from the coastal city west of Tripoli, on Wednesday morning in Paris, said the source, who asked not to be named.

Sarkozy’s office declined to comment.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Qaddafi on charges of crimes against humanity during his crackdown on the uprising against him that began in mid-February.

It is unclear whether he would avoid being taken to the court in The Netherlands if he remains in Libya under a ceasefire deal.

“That point is not currently under discussion,” Juppe said. “There are procedures that must be followed and we will see afterwards in light of the negotiations what will come of that.”

Pushing a major offensive against forces loyal to Qaddafi, the rebels claim to have taken the key oil town of Brega.

“Things are progressing,” Juppe said, but “they are not yet at a spectacular turning point.”

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French forces tortured and murdered Algerian freedom fighter in 1950s, admits Macron

French forces "tortured and murdered" Algerian freedom fighter Ali Boumendjel during his country's war for independence, President Emmanuel Macron admitted on Tuesday, officially reappraising a death that was covered up as a suicide.

French forces tortured and murdered Algerian freedom fighter in 1950s, admits Macron
Malika, the widow of Ali Boumendjel, pictured in 2001. Photo: Stefan Fferberg/AFP

Macron made the admission “in the name of France” during a meeting with Boumendjel’s grandchildren.

The move comes after Macron in January refused to issue an official apology for abuses committed during the occupation of Algeria – instead, he agreed to form a “truth commission” as recommended by a report commissioned by the government to shed light on France’s colonial past.

Atrocities committed by both sides during the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence continue to strain relations between the countries.

Boumendjel, a nationalist and lawyer, was arrested during the battle of Algiers by the French army, “placed incommunicado, tortured, and then killed on 23 March 1957,” the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

“Ali Boumendjel did not commit suicide. He was tortured and then killed,” Macron told Boumendjel’s grandchildren, according to the statement.

It is not the first time the real cause of death was acknowledged.

In 2000, the former head of French intelligence in Algiers Paul Aussaresses confessed to ordering Boumendjel’s death and disguising the murder as a suicide, according to the statement.

It added that Macron on Tuesday had also reiterated his desire to give families the opportunity to find out the truth about this chapter of history.

Last month, Boumendjel’s niece Fadela Boumendjel-Chitour denounced what she called the “devastating” lie the French state had told about her uncle.

French historian Benjamin Stora, who wrote the government-commissioned report, has said there is a “never-ending memory war” between the two countries.

The report has been described by the Algerian government as “not objective” and falling “below expectations.”

During his 2017 election campaign, Macron – the first president born after the colonial period – declared that the occupation of Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

He has since said there was “no question of showing repentance” or of “presenting an apology” for abuses committed in the North African country.