The UN Security Council has authorised a no-fly zone over Libya.
Ten of its 15 members voted in favour. There were no votes against but China and Russia were among five abstentions.
The resolution also authorises “all necessary measures” – that is code for military action – to protect civilians against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.
It was co-sponsored by France. Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said:
“As I speak, Colonel Gaddafi’s troops are pursuing the violent reconquering of towns and territories that had freed themselves. We cannot let the warmongers do this. We cannot abandon civilian populations, victims of a brutal repression, to their fate. We cannout allow lawfulness and international morality to be flouted.”
The vote in New York was attended by Tripoli’s ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Shalgham, who last month publicly denounced the Libyan leader.