Former Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici said today that Malta was an accomplice in the military action being taken against Libya because it was allowing warplanes to transit its airspace and their pilots must be talking to Maltese air traffic controllers.

Speaking at a press conference, the former Labour leader insisted that Malta must dissociate itself completely from the current actions against Libya.

What was taking place, he argued, was naked aggression as part of an international plot to overthrow the Gaddafi government. The protection of civilians was an excuse.

The evacuation of foreign oil workers from Libya prior to the current military action was also part of the plot. What was happening was similar to what had happened in Iraq, when military action was started on the basis of 'a lie'. It was no coincidence that both Iraq and Libya were Arab and oil-rich nations.

Dr Mifsud Bonnici said that Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi should be hauled before the International Court only if Tony Blair, George Bush, Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and Ariel Sharon were first charged with war crimes.

He described Gaddafi as an arch-democratic dictator in that he had the support of the people despite not having been elected.

Dr Mifsud Bonnici said he agreed with having a no-fly zone over Libya, but only if it was truly a no-fly zone, and not an arrangement where only the military aircraft of the West were allowed to fly over the North African country.

Malta's role, he said, should have been to seek a ceasefire and to mediate between the rival Libyan factions.

Questioned on Gaddafi's actions again the people, Dr Mifsud Bonnici asked what any government would have done when faced by a group of people who used weapons to attack other people and public property.

If the Libyan government shot first, that was wrong, he said. But it did not mean it could no longer be considered as being the legitimate government.

Dr Mifsud Bonnici insisted that the Constitution absolutely disallowed the government from providing a base or other facilities to foreign military forces. The Constitution , he argued, said that such facilities could be offered only at the Maltese government's request. No such request had been made.

The Prime Minister was therefore also absolutely wrong to have told The Sunday Times that the government was keeping other options open, Dr Mifsud Bonnici said.

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