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Libyan rebels reject Moammar Gadhafi's cease-fire

May 31, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
In Libya, rebels are rejecting a reported truce from leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The president of South Africa says Gadhafi is ready to accept an African Union proposal for a cease-fire, however insists he will not leave his country.

Rebel leaders immediately turned down the African initiative because of Gadhafi's refusal to relinquish power.

On Tuesday, Italy's foreign minister pledged to provide Libya's rebels with fuel and hundreds of millions of dollars backed by frozen assets of Gadhafi's regime. Franco Frattini spoke during a visit to the de facto rebel capital, Benghazi.

South Africa is concerned for Gadhafi's safety, according to the statement released by President Jacob Zuma's office Tuesday, after he returned home from his talks with Gadhafi in Tripoli- a rare visit by a high-level world figure.

Zuma called for a halt to NATO airstrikes as part of the cease-fire. After initially backing NATO's involvement, Zuma and the African Union called for a cessation, charging that NATO had overstepped its U.N. mandate to protect civilians.

Through the statement, the African Union appealed for recognition of its role in finding a formula, adding, "Nothing other than a dialogue among all parties in Libya can bring about a lasting solution." The African body's image has deteriorated in recent years because of its inability to resolve conflicts on the continent.

Rebels in Libya also launched their first homegrown satellite TV station in an effort to counter the message of Gadhafi churned out on state-run TV.

Residents of Benghazi gathered to watch the new station on large screens set up in a public square. The channel, known as "Free Libya," is a major step in the rebels' attempts to get their message to the Libyan public.

Satellite TV reaches an estimated 90 percent of the Libyan population.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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