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Libya: Gadhafi offers to be 'figurehead'

Rebel fighters celebrate after coming back from the front line against Moammar Gadhafi's forces, in Ajdabiya, Libya, Monday, May 9, 2011, where fighting between rebels and forces loyal to leader Moamer Kadhafi is ongoing. Rebels controlled the airport in Misurata, spokesmen for the Libyan rebels said. UPI\Tarek Alhuony.
Rebel fighters celebrate after coming back from the front line against Moammar Gadhafi's forces, in Ajdabiya, Libya, Monday, May 9, 2011, where fighting between rebels and forces loyal to leader Moamer Kadhafi is ongoing. Rebels controlled the airport in Misurata, spokesmen for the Libyan rebels said. UPI\Tarek Alhuony. | License Photo

TRIPOLI, Libya, May 26 (UPI) -- The government of embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has proposed he stay on as a figurehead as the country moves toward democracy.

As NATO air forces continue to pound Libyan military targets and Western leaders push for Gadhafi's ouster, the Los Angeles Times says the Libyan leader is angling to ensure he can remain in Libya as a ceremonial leader and will not be put on trial.

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GALLERY: Libyan rebels

U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minster David Cameron in London Wednesday both said Gadhafi must leave power.

The Times says the proposal floated by Gadhafi aides indicates how desperate Gadhafi has become since the pro-democracy revolt began in February in the eastern city of Benghazi. Gadhafi has ruled Libya with an iron hand for 42 years and apparently groomed his sons continue the regime.

Forces loyal to Gadhafi have surrendered control of much of the North African country to rebel forces that have stalled east of Tripoli. There are severe fuel shortages and popular support for Gadhafi has faded, the newspaper said in a dispatch from Tripoli.

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"If you don't have Gadhafi, you don't have democracy," said chief government spokesman Musa Ibrahim. "This is official: Gadhafi is willing to be part of a constitution that gives him no executive powers whatsoever. He is a figurehead."

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