Tribal leaders turn on Qaddafi

MISURATA, LIBYA - APRIL 20:  Rebel fighters fi...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Libya's tribes on Wednesday urged Moamer Kadhafi to cede power, as rebels backed by NATO air strikes said they forced the strongman's missiles out of range of the lifeline port of Misrata.

Chiefs or representatives of 61 tribes from across the North African country called for an end to Kadhafi's four-decade rule, in a joint statement released by French writer Bernard-Henri Levy.

"Faced with the threats weighing on the unity of our country, faced with the manoeuvres and propaganda of the dictator and his family, we solemnly declare: Nothing will divide us," said the text, drawn up in Benghazi on April 12.

"We share the same ideal of a free, democratic and united Libya," it said.

The call came as rebels said they had managed to push back Kadhafi's forces and secure the port of besieged Misrata, a day after it came under sustained rocket fire.

The insurgents said NATO air raids overnight enabled them to force Kadhafi's troops 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the port of Misrata, which remains encircled by regime troops to the east, west and south.

That put Kadhafi's Grad rockets out of range of the port, an aid conduit for rebels in the western city of half a million people that has been under siege for more than seven weeks.

There is more.

Qaddafi's tribal strategy in Misrata appears to have backfired on him. It also appears that NATO has finally hit the vulnerable rocket launchers used by the Qaddafi forces. That they had not previously been hit has been a puzzle.
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