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Libyan envoys call on army to topple Kadhafi

Libyan diplomats at the United Nations condemned Monday their strongman leader Moamer Kadhafi as a "tyrant" and accused him of "genocide" as they called on him to stand down or be forced out of power.

Mission staff led by deputy ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi accused Kadhafi of bringing in foreign mercenaries from other African nations to fight protesters. They called for an international no-fly zone over the North African nation.

"The tyrant Moamer Kadhafi has clearly shown, through his sons the level of ignorance he and his children have and how much he despises Libya," the rebel diplomats said in a statement.

The Arabic language statement called on the Libyan army "wherever they are and whatever their rank, to organize themselves and move on Tripoli and cut the snake's head."

Amid growing reports of clashes in Tripoli and other cities, it warned there could be an "an unprecedented massacre" and condemned the use of African "mercenaries" against protesters.

The diplomats urged the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to stop mercenaries and weapons from getting into the country.

They also called on other countries to refuse to give refuge to Kadhafi if he tries to flee and urged them to be alert for any attempt to get money out of Libya.

Speaking at the entrance to the Libyan mission, next to a picture of Kadhafi on a white stallion, the deputy ambassador called on the longest-serving Arab leader to stand down as soon as possible and for Libyan diplomats around the world to reject him.

"We state clearly that the Libyan mission is a mission for the Libyan people. It is not for the regime. The regime of Kadhafi has already started the genocide against the Libyan people," he said.

The International Criminal Court should investigate Kadhafi, Dabbashi said.

In an interview with BBC World, the deputy ambassador said it would be "a matter of days" before the man who has led the country for more than four decades steps down or is forced out of power.

About six mission staff stood with Dabbashi as he made his statement, but it remained unclear how many diplomats had turned against Kadhafi.

Libya's UN ambassador Abdurrahman Shalgham did not appear with the dissenters.

Dabbashi said earlier he had not seen the ambassador since Friday and did not know whether he shared the opinion of many in his mission.

Adam Tarbah, a third secretary at the UN mission, told the Los Angeles Times that the diplomats made the decision to go public with their dissent "because of the regime's despicable actions to attack the Libyan people."

"We are aware that this will put our families back home in danger, but they are in danger anyway," Tarbah said.

Tarbah and Dabbashi referred to a speech made Sunday by Kadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, who vowed to "fight to the last bullet."

"He was inciting civil war," Tarbah said. "It was shameful."

Libyan diplomats at several embassies around the world have announced they are breaking with Kadhafi.

tw/oh

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