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Key says Gaddafi 'a real troublemaker'

Published: 8:46AM Monday March 21, 2011 Source: ONE News

New Zealand is imposing sanctions on Libya, as Prime Minister John Key describes its leader Muammar Gaddafi as "a real troublemaker".

Gaddafi has vowed to fight a long war, despite fresh coalition air strikes on his forces to enforce a no-fly zone imposed by the United Nations last week.

Key told TV ONE's Breakfast New Zealand is giving effect to all the sanctions against Libya in the UN resolution, including travel bans on the regime and freezing Libyan financial assets.

He said there is no legal basis to stop Libyan students coming to New Zealand to study but the government would look at its student exchange agreement with Libya.

Asked why there is not the same consensus to take action against Bahrain or Yemen which are also using force against citizens, Key said the situation in Libya is much different to the uprisings in those countries.

"I guess it's the nature of the force. Also, relatively speaking, Gaddafi's been seen as someone who's been a real troublemaker there and there've been concerns about the escalation of that violence.

"(That's) not to say the people aren't concerned about violence in Yemen and other countries. They are."

Key also said a number of the UN security council members had petitioned hard for some time for sanctions to be put on Libya and for there to be a no fly zone.

He said New Zealand is offering the allies diplomatic and political support for the action against Libya.

But he said New Zealand is too far away to offer military support and he's not sure that would be what's required as NATO seem to have enough resources.

"It's quite clear that Gaddafi has been undertaking violence against his people. That's abhorrent. We want to see that end and we do want to see a smooth and peaceful transition to a new leader," Key said.

"There's always a mixture of views but, on balance, the majority of Libyan people have said they want a new leader and they want to move towards democracy."

University of Auckland foreign affairs expert Stephen Hoadley told Breakfast the US had "strategic interests as well as humanitarian interests" in taking action against Libya.

"Without doubt, US interests come into it and the fact that the United States has interest in Bahrain and the Gulf States is certainly a factor. No policy is pure."

Hoadley said the Arab states supported the no-fly zone and they want Gaddafi out.

"On the other hand they don't want any casualties. So in a sense they are playing the situation and it's very distressing for the Western governments that are wondering 'how is it possible to win the allegiance of the Arab countries' because they seem to have two different objectives and they're not clear which one is the most important."

Twenty nine New Zealanders have left Libya since violence broke out, but the government says four Kiwis still there do not want to leave.