Says that it does not condone any infringement of sovereignty
By Uditha Jayasinghe
Throwing down the gauntlet once again the government yesterday stated that the coalition forces are going beyond the mandate given to them by the United Nations (UN) to safeguard civilians in Libya.
Responding to a question raised by reporters at the weekly Cabinet briefing Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella stressed that the government disapproved of anyone harming civilians.
He insisted that no outside party had the right to interfere in the matters of a sovereign State and that the imposition of a “no fly zone” over Libya is a direct contravention of this.
“We have observed over the years that the very nations who cry over human rights are the same countries that put dictators into power,” Keheliya said adding that the official standpoint of the government is that Sri Lanka does not support the intervention of the UN.
He emphasised that the mandate given by the UN to protect civilians in Libya was being exploited for their own ends by the coalition forces and that this would in no way be condoned by the government.
It was reported on Thursday that NATO has assumed full command of all air operations over Libya, taking over from the U.S., which had played a leading role since international forces began enforcing a no-fly zone on 19 March.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the transition was completed early Thursday.
The NATO operation, called “Unified Protector”, includes enforcing the U.N. Security Council resolution that mandates the no-fly zone along with an arms embargo and airstrikes to protect civilians.
Meanwhile, U.S. media reports say the CIA has sent teams of operatives into Libya to gather intelligence and make contact with anti-Gadhafi forces.
The reports cite officials as saying intelligence agents are looking into the identities and abilities of rebel forces before foreign allies consider providing them with direct military aid.
British sources told The New York Times that British Special Forces and intelligence officers also are in the North African nation.
In Washington, the White House repeated that the U.S. has not made a decision on whether to provide arms to rebel forces in Libya.
Wednesday’s statement was issued amid reports that President Barack Obama has approved a secret authorisation for covert efforts to support anti-government rebels.
Earlier Wednesday, troops loyal to Gadhafi drove anti-government rebels from key coastal cities they had seized days before, reversing opposition gains made since international airstrikes began.