Funny Gaddafi Caricatures
A painter paints a caricature of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi May 1, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Gaddafi is once again causing havoc it seems as coalition forces supporting the Nato-led operation in Libya appears to be at loggerheads with the International Criminal Court.

Recent weeks have been marked by declaration from France, the U.K and the Rebels saying they could allow for Gaddafi to remain in Libya.

Foreign Secretary William Hague speaking on Monday evening in London alongside Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister, said that whether or not Colonel Gaddafi stayed in Libya was "ultimately a question for the Libyans".

"It is for the Libyan people to determine their own future. Whatever happens, Gaddafi must leave power," Mr Hague said.

Hillary Clinton last week took exactly the same position and was the first one to point out that the final call should be left for the Libyan people to decide.

Also, on Sunday, Libyan opposition leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said hat Col. Muammar Gadhafi and his family could remain in Libya as part of a political solution to the five-month-old conflict provided the leader agrees to step down. Jalil added it would be up to the Transitional National Council to decide where and under what conditions he would remain in Libya.

"Gadhafi can stay in Libya but it will have conditions," Mr. Jalil said. "We will decide where he stays and who watches him. The same conditions will apply to his family."Jalil reportedly said.

"The war will end in one of three ways," Mr. Jalil said. "Gadhafi will surrender, he will flee Libya, or he will be killed or captured by one of his bodyguards or by rebel forces."

Both the rebels and Nato have grown extremely frustrated as the five month conflict is still at stalemate and despite boasting they have recently gained territories the rebels on the front have also suffered a number of setbacks. Moreover, as pro-Gaddafi supporters have recently been more vocal, in Tripoli but also in Sirte, the leader's birthplace, taking over the capital still seems like a long way ahead.

Despite talks of the Libyan regime apparently holding talks with different countries including China, Russia, the U.K., France and the A.U., the latest messages from Gaddafi far from confirm reports announced by French and British sources saying a few weeks ago that the leader was seriously considering leaving the country.

The Libyan government moreover denied holding talks with the rebels, after allegations emerged the two affronting factions had established communication.

The different reports and news coming from both the media and official sources are confusing as they just appear to be in a constant state of opposition. The few facts that are actually known to be true are that both the rebels and the coalition forces desperately try to bring the conflict to an end and that Gaddafi will not voluntarily accept to step down without guaranties he will not be prosecuted.

Hence the rise of a new problem, this time opposing the coalition forces and the ICC as despite claiming they have not changed their position or strategy regarding Libya and Gaddafi, clearly, France, the U.K. and the U.S should admit that five months ago they clearly called for Gaddafi to step down, leave Libya and be prosecuted. At the time, leaving the final decision to the Libyan people was not part of the equation.

When the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced arrest warrant Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and Abdullah al-Senussi, head of Libya's state security services, his move was widely supported by the countries cited above. Gaddafi was responsible for crimes against humanity, which explained and legitimised both why the Nato operation was set up by the security council and why the West was calling for his demise. International Justice needed to be done and the coalition forces insisted they would make sure it prevails.

Five months down the line however and with a leader refusing to back down despite fuel, food and cash shortage crippling the regime as much as the rest of the country and the economy and International Justice should give way to state sovereignty-under a West supported new regime-which would allow for the people of Libya to decide themselves whether or not they want their leader to be prosecuted.

The problem however is that it will be complicated for the coalition forces to allow and support a deal preserving Gaddafi, his family and his interest, when the ICC will first and foremost rely on them to arrest the Libyan leader and bring him the Hague.

The ICC has reacted rather angrily to the new strategy and was forced to issue a statement unambiguously dismissing suggestions by Britain and France that Colonel Gaddafi could be allowed to remain in Libya as part of negotiated deal to remove him from power.

Instead, a spokesperson for the court insisted that a new government would be obliged to arrest the dictator under warrants issued by the court.

The ICC, which both Britain and France, the two countries leading the Nato operation in Libya have signed up to, said that Gaddafi could not be allowed to escape justice. "He has to be arrested," said Florence Olara, spokeswoman for the court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

Both France and the U.K have, with the Libyan conflict put themselves in a rather uneasy position and cracks start to show. With the Nato bombing campaign being widely criticised France distributing weapons and the rebels acting shady, according to right groups, many have accused the two countries of neo-colonialism. In this light it is easy to understand while both governments now insist the ultimate outcome will be left to the Libyan people to decide. It risks however being quite difficult allowing for Gaddafi to stay in Libya when the ICC expects the new government in Libya to hand him in. The quest for International justice was officially the drive behind the Nato operation, and at that time it was decided that the Libyan people could not be left to deal with the conflict on their own because Gaddafi was too much of a threat, so it is surprising to see why the U.K or France would expect the Libyan people to let him stay in Libya.