India, four others abstain from UN's Libya no-fly zone resolution

United Nations, Mar. 18: India, China, Russia, Germany and Brazil have abstained from voting on a resolution to approve a no-fly zone over Libya.

Ten members of the 15-member United Nations Security Council voted in favour of the resolution.

"This resolution calls for far-reaching measures, but we never got answers to very basic questions," the Daily Mail quoted India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, as saying.

Puri added: "This entire exercise has been based on less than complete information."

Chinese envoy Li Baodong said: "Many of those questions failed to be clarified or answered."

Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin said: "Outside force could destabilise the Middle East and North African region and described the resolution as unfortunate and regrettable."

Britain and France had co-authored the resolution, while Lebanon had tabled it. The move to put the resolution before the UNSC came after the Arab League called for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.

Puri said: "Passing a resolution is an interactive process...if countries have try to remove them. I'm afraid that the two countries leading the process (UK and France) did not make the required effort."

US envoy to the UN Susan Rice said it was impossible to answer all the questions given that the Council had to act quickly.

The resolution calls for an immediate ceasefire. The action came as Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi threatened to launch the final attack to push out rebels from Benghazi, the second largest city of the country.

The resolution, however, excludes "a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."

It also widens previous sanctions by imposing asset freezes for seven more of Gaddafi's supporters and five more entities including key state-owned Libyan companies.

Media reports from the ground suggest that Libyan rebels headquartered in Benghazi have welcomed the UN resolution with celebratory gunfire. Imams at mosques shouted: "God is greatest, God is greatest."

Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy envoy to the UN who has turned against Gaddafi, called for the immediate implementation of the resolution.

UK envoy to the UN Mark Lyall Grant said the vote puts the weight of the Security Council squarely behind the Libyan people.

According to the Daily Mail, British and French jets are poised to take action within hours.

The Royal Air Force could be deployed this weekend to protect Benghazi. Typhoon jets are likely to fly from French or Italian military bases in the Mediterranean.

llied forces could use French bases along the Mediterranean or the British base in Cyprus. Negotiations have also been under way about the possibility of operating some aircraft from bases in Arab countries.

Italy last night said it would make its military bases available to enforce the UN resolution. Its airbase at Sigonella in Sicily is one of the closest NATO bases to Libya.

U.S. navy aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean are initially expected to provide radar and logistical support.

The Royal Air Force's ageing Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft, which were recently given a temporary reprieve from the scrap yard, could also play a role in monitoring the movement of Gaddafi's forces.

British Special Forces will also be involved in the operation.

The size of the SAS has increased rapidly in recent years and experts believe special forces units could be deployed to Libya without affecting operations elsewhere.

British warships could also be deployed for coercive action.

Colonel Gaddafi, however, described the imposition of the no-fly zone as "craziness and madness".

Anticipating the move, Gaddafi threatened to attack any air or maritime traffic in the Mediterranean, including civilian targets.

He condemned the UN action as an act of 'flagrant colonisation'.

"If the world gets crazy with us, we will get crazy too. We will respond. We will make their lives hell because they are making our lives hell. They will never have peace," he warned.

Copyright Asian News International/