TRIPOLI: South African President Jacob Zuma arrived on Monday in Libya for talks on ending the conflict as Nato said Moamer Kadhafi's “reign of terror” was nearing its end and rebels reported military defections.
A rebel leader told AFP that eight senior officers of Kadhafi's military, including four generals, have defected and would address the media in Rome later on Monday.
An AFP correspondent reported that Zuma arrived at Kadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound, a regular target of Nato air strikes, at 1400 GMT, but it was unclear whether the Libyan strongman was inside, although his guards were present.
Zuma was earlier greeted at the airport by Kadhafi's prime minister, Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, shortly after state media said Nato-led air strikes on the town of Zliten, west of the rebel-held city of Misrata, had killed 11 people.
The South African presidency said Zuma is seeking an immediate ceasefire, to boost humanitarian aid and bring about the reforms needed to eliminate the cause of the conflict which erupted amid anti-regime protests in mid-February.
But it rejected as “misleading” reports the talks would focus on an exit strategy for Kadhafi, calling the visit part of African Union efforts to end the conflict.
Libyan state television said Zuma would discuss implementing the AU “roadmap” for peace, as it reported Nato-led raids on the Nafusa mountains in the far west and the town of Bani Walid, near Misrata.
State news agency JANA said warplanes had hit “civilian and military sites in the Wadi Kaam area of Zliten.””There were 11 people martyred and a number of wounded,” it said.
At a meeting of Nato's parliamentary assembly in Bulgaria, Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted: “Kadhafi's reign of terror is coming to an end.
“He is increasingly isolated at home and abroad. Even those closest to him are departing, defecting or deserting. ... It is time for Kadhafi to go as well,” Rasmussen said.
The Nato chief was upbeat about the results of Nato's military intervention to enforce a UN-backed no-fly zone over the north African country.
“Our operation in Libya, Operation Unified Protector, is achieving its objectives and we are preventing Kadhafi from achieving his,” Rasmussen said.