PM Leterme: "It's about getting rid of the Gaddafi regime"

The Belgian Prime Minister, Yves Leterme (Flemish Christian democrat), has said that the Belgian Government will formulate the rules of engagement for Belgian forces deployed in Libya "as precisely as possible". The Belgian Chamber of Representatives will debate Belgium's participation in operations against the regime of Colonel Gaddafi on Monday afternoon.

The Belgian Government will first formulate the rules of engagement after which the lower house will debate the issue.

On Sunday differences emerged in the positions held by several allies with regard to the scope and the goal of the international intervention in Libya. Mr Leterme conceded on Monday morning that it was not entirely clear which country would do what, but he insisted that there was unanimity about the fact that action is being taken.

The Premier played down criticism of the bombing raids on Libya voiced by Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the Arab League: "There is more to enforcing a no-fly zone than patrolling and ensuring that nobody is in the air above Libya. It can also include destroying installations that enable flight above the country."

Mr Leterme denied that there was any debate about the point of the military mission and the fate of Libya's Colonel Gaddafi: "We're being very clear. International players have spoken out about this and the role of the International Criminal Court."

The Premier insisted that there was broad agreement on the need for the Gaddafi regime to go and our duty to protect the civilian population. Operational agreements have also been made with a view to enforcing the no-fly zone. Mr Leterme said that in this respect NATO played a complementary role.

"Everything will go according to schedule. I'm not going to say when or where, but today or tomorrow capacity will be effective. This is an operation not without risk and we should appreciate that fellow countrymen will be risking their lives."