Moamer Kadhafi can no longer lead Libya and needs to step down, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has said in an interview with AFP.
"Whatever happens, there will be a negotiated solution, even later. In any case, Kadhafi can no longer lead Libya. His departure has become necessary," he said Monday.
Ould Abdel Aziz, who heads a panel of African Union leaders in charge of finding a negotiated solution to the Libyan conflict, added that he doubted the value of NATO air strikes on Kadhafi's forces.
NATO's air campaign is intended to enforce a UN-mandated no-fly zone to protect civilians in the conflict, which erupted mid-February.
"The NATO strikes were maybe able to lower the intensity of action by the government forces at the time, but, in any case, they do not seem to be solving the problem and they cannot solve it," Ould Abdel Aziz said.
"It is the state and the Libyan people who are suffering from them," he said.
"He (Kadhafi) must be made to leave without causing more damage," he said.
The 53-nation African Union called last week for an end to the air strikes on Libya to pave the way for a political solution to the conflict.
A ceasefire plan put forward by the AU in March, which included a transition period to organise elections, was accepted by Kadhafi himself but rejected by the Libyan rebels, who insisted on his departure first.
Mauritania is also a member of the Arab League, which is also seeking a political solution to the Libyan conflict.© ANP/AFP