New NATO strikes as Kadhafi says ‘ready’ for AU roadmap

NATO launched air raids early Tuesday on Tripoli after visiting South African President Jacob Zuma said that Moamer Kadhafi is “ready” to implement an African Union plan to end the Libyan conflict.

Zuma, representing the African regional group, held talks Monday with the Libyan leader as NATO insisted that Kadhafi’s “reign of terror” is nearing an end.

“He is ready to implement the road map of the AU,” Zuma told journalists in comments broadcast on South African and Libyan television. It would begin with a ceasefire that must include a halt of NATO bombing, Zuma said.

But the South African mediator did not publicly discuss the key obstacle: Kadhafi’s departure. The rebels have reiterated they’ll accept no settlement that keeps Kadhafi in power.

Kadhafi insists that “all Libyans be given a chance to talk among themselves” to determine the country’s future, Zuma said.

Libyan state television reported fresh NATO air raids overnight Monday to Tuesday against targets in Tripoli, the suburb of Tajura and Al-Jafra, a city to the south of the capital.

The report, on Jamahiriya TV, cited a military source as saying that “NATO colonialist crusaders” had targeted military and civilian sites in Tripoli and Tajura, causing deaths and damage.

From the centre of Tripoli, which NATO warplanes have been attacking for several weeks now, an AFP reporter reported warplanes flying overhead and distant explosions around midnight local time (2200 GMT).

Jamahiriya TV also said there had been air raids on civilian and military sites in the city of Al-Jafra, 600 kilometres (370 miles) south of the capital.

Zuma said that NATO raids were undermining African mediation efforts.

“Even going there had to be delayed because of bombing,” he said in apparent reference to an initial AU mission to Libya.

“We only went there long after the time that we had taken a decision, and even going there, you have to ask permission from the NATO to get to Libya.”