TRIPOLI/AMSTERDAM, (Reuters) – Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi could fall within two to three months, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said yesterday, as rebels sought to build on a gradual advance towards Tripoli.
The ICC’s Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who on Monday announced an arrest warrant for Gaddafi on charges of crimes against humanity, is the latest international official to say the Libyan leader would soon capitulate to a NATO-backed revolt.
“It is a matter of time … Gaddafi will face charges,” Moreno-Ocampo told reporters in The Hague, where the warrants were approved for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.
He added: “I don’t think we will have to wait for long…In two or three months it is game over.”
The Libyan administration rejects the authority of the ICC and has denied targeting civilians, saying it has acted against armed criminal gangs and al Qaeda militants.
While there is little chance of Gaddafi being arrested if he remains in power, his foes have seized on the warrant to justify the three-month NATO bombing campaign and to try and bolster world opinion in support of the operation.
In Washington, a U.S. Senate panel backed a resolution to formally authorise continued U.S. participation in the NATO-led operation. Senators on the panel rebuked President Barack Obama for not having sought congressional approval in the first place.
In comments that appeared to make any political settlement even less likely, rebels said after talks in Paris that even indirect contacts with Gaddafi were now excluded — hardening a line that until now acknowledged talks through intermediaries.
“I don’t think there is any place for direct or indirect contact with Gaddafi,” Mahmoud Shammam, a spokesman for the National Transitional Council (NTC) said after meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In its eastern stronghold of Benghazi, the NTC hosted the foreign minister of Bulgaria, whose country along with Romania brought to at least 22 the number of states which recognise the NTC as representatives of the Libyan people.