Anti-war activists to protest at London Libya conference


London : Anti-war activists are planning to hold a protest against Tuesday’s international Libya conference in London called by the British government.

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“It is very important the world sees there is wide opposition here to their plans,” said Stop the War Coalition (STWC), which is organising the protest outside Lancaster House, the venue for the conference.

STWC criticised Foreign Secretary William Hague for being “keen to keep Britain at the forefront” of the military intervention launched just over a week ago.

The first poll on the intervention showed last week that the UK public is at odds with the government over its leading role in using military action, with 53 per cent agreeing it would be unacceptable for British armed forces personnel to risk death or injury while trying to protect Libyan opposition forces.

Confirming details of the conference, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday that it would be broadly-based with more than 40 countries attending, but announced it would include only five Arab countries.

Cameron also confirmed it had been agreed that NATO would take over command and control of all aspects of the current military operations in Libya after already establishing a no-fly zone and enforcing an arms embargo and that “not every” permanent member of the UN Security Council would attend the conference.

According to the Foreign Office, the aim of the conference is to demonstrate the “international community’s unity of purpose, bringing together a broad grouping of countries committed to a better future for the people of Libya.”

It is also to send an “unequivocal message” to continue to implement UNSCR 1973 and to learn past lessons by forging a “wide group looking at long-term support, including humanitarian assistance and international support to the people of Libya as they transit into the future.”

Asked about the involvement of Arab states, Foreign Office spokesman Barry Marston told IRNA that it was important to have a “regional coordinated strategy.”

With regard to the call for a show of international community unity, Marston also admitted that China and Russia, which abstained from the UN resolution, had not fully confirmed their attendance and that in the case of Russia, it would “possibly not” participate.