Libya: African Union offers truce plan to rebels
Members of an African Union delegation are offering a peace proposal to end Libya's eight-week-old conflict to rebel leaders in the city of Benghazi.
The AU says the government has already accepted the plan. The delegation met leader Col Muammar Gaddafi on Sunday.
Rebels promised to study the plan, but ruled out a truce unless Col Gaddafi stepped down and his forces withdrew.
Pro-Gaddafi forces have recently pushed back rebels - but Nato has thwarted their advance.
Nato says its planes destroyed 25 government tanks in Ajdabiya on Sunday alone.
Meanwhile in Misrata, the only city in western Libya controlled by the rebels, their spokesman told Reuters news agency that five people had been killed and more than 20 injured in a bombardment by pro-Gaddafi forces.
The AU deal's main points are:
* An immediate ceasefire
* The unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid
* Protection of foreign nationals
* A dialogue between the government and rebels on a political settlement
* The suspension of Nato airstrikes
In all, the AU mission comprised representatives from five nations: presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali and Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville, and Uganda's Foreign Minister Henry Oryem Okello.
Mr Zuma, who led the delegation on its visit to Tripoli, is now returning to South Africa.
The five-strong panel was approved by the European Union.
The AU delegation arrived in Benghazi to a rough reception, with demonstrators shouting "Gaddafi out" and mobbing their vehicles, reports the BBC's Jon Leyne in the city.
More protesters have gathered at the hotel where they are due to stay.
Our correspondent says the opposition will be very uneasy that they are in danger of being outmanoeuvred by this delegation, which they will see as being very sympathetic to Col Gaddafi.
Earlier rebel spokesman Mustafa Gheriani told Reuters the proposal would be considered, but "the Libyan people have made it very clear that Gaddafi must step down".
Another spokesman, Shamsiddin Abdulmolah, told AFP news agency: "The people must be allowed to go into the streets to express their opinion and the soldiers must return to their barracks."
"The world has seen these offers of ceasefires before and within 15 minutes [Col Gaddafi] starts shooting again," he added.
The British-based representative of the Libyan opposition leadership, Guma al-Gamaty, has told the BBC that any deal designed to keep Col Gaddafi or his sons in place would not be acceptable.
Meanwhile "taking note" of the AU initiative, Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the alliance had "always made it clear that there could be no purely military solution to this crisis".
"We welcome all contributions to the broad international effort aimed at stopping the violence against the civilian population in Libya."
An unnamed Nato official said that military operations would continue.
"Our aircraft are still flying and when we see a threat to civilians, we will engage," the official said.
A spokesman for UK Prime Minister David Cameron also said military action would continue to be taken to protect civilians.
Before his departure, Mr Zuma said Col Gaddafi had given his approval to the AU peace proposal.
"The brother leader delegation has accepted the roadmap as presented by us," he declared.
"We have to give the ceasefire a chance."
An AU official said the idea of Col Gaddafi stepping down had been discussed, but gave no further details.
"There was some discussion on this but I cannot report on this. It has to remain confidential," said AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra.
"It's up to the Libyan people to choose their leaders democratically."
Nato air strikes have been continuing: the alliance says its planes destroyed 25 government tanks on Sunday alone.
Eleven were reportedly destroyed as they approached Ajdabiya and 14 were destroyed earlier near Misrata, the only city in western Libya still in rebel hands.
Accusing government forces of "brutally shelling" civilian areas, Nato said it was responding to a desperate situation in the two towns, under its UN mandate to protect civilians.
It was one of the biggest series of air strikes since the coalition's initial onslaught, our correspondent says.
Ajdabiya is important to the opposition as it controls a strategic crossroads and is the last town before the main rebel city of Benghazi.BBC News