By Ray Fleming

AT a press conference on Monday, Foreign Secretary William Hague and his French counterpart Alain Juppe said that a political settlement in Libya could see Muammar Gaddafi remaining in the country after relinquishing all power, military and civil. There is probably support for such an arrangement from many of the rebel leaders currently fighting Gaddafi. But Mr Hague was not correct in saying that the British position has always been that the Libyan people should determine their own future once Gaddafi had stood down. On 28 February David Cameron told the House of Commons: “For the future of Libya and its people Colonel Gaddafi's regime must end and he must leave”. Perhaps that was another instance of Mr Cameron's tendency to speak first and tidy up afterwards.

The situation is complicated by the fact that the International Criminal Court (ICC), acting in accordance with a UN Security Council resolution, has determined that Gaddafi should stand trial at the Hague for crimes against humanity. It is absolutely essential to the status of the ICC that any negotiations with Gaddafi about his future place of residence should not include provision for his immunity from prosecution by the ICC which in this case acted explicitly on the basis of a UN resolution. Gaddafi might succeed in avoiding ICC arrest by remaining in Libya but the case against him must remain active indefinitely.

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