Rebel deadline for Gaddafi to step down ‘expires’

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A deadline for strongman Moamer Gaddafi to step down and remain in the country has expired, the chief of Libya’s rebel Transitional National Council said on Wednesday. “We made a proposal. The deadline has past. The proposal has expired,” Mustafa Mohamed Abdel Jalil said of what had been a three-point offer made through the United Nations special envoy. Abdel Jalil told a press conference in rebel bastion Benghazi the NTC had delivered to Abdul Ilah al-Khatib “a very specific, well-intentioned offer that Gaddafi can stay in Libya under three conditions.” Under the offer, Gaddafi would have to step aside and relinquish all responsibilities, the place of his residence would be the “choice of the Libyan people” and he would be under “close supervision,” Abdel Jalil said. “The period of this proposal has passed,” he said. “We cannot ignore the fact that the people who have been standing against him want him out.” The NTC chairman also hailed a decision by Britain to recognise the rebel council as the country’s sole legitimate government after dramatically expelling all remaining staff loyal to Gaddafi from the London embassy. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in London he had invited the NTC to take over the embassy and appoint an official envoy in a major boost for the movement fighting Gaddafi ‘s regime. “We express tremedous appreciation for this recognition,” Abdel Jalil said. “We will try through this recognition to obtain a large portion of the frozen funds,” he added, referring to assets of Gaddafi frozen under international sanctions. “Gaddafi and his followers as a result of all these recognitions from the international community have become outlaws,” he said.