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UN suspends Libya from rights council

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The 192 U.N. member nations suspended Libya on Tuesday from the U.N. Human Rights Council in the latest international effort to halt the Gadhafi regime’s violent crackdown on protesters.

The General Assembly voted by consensus on the council’s recommendation to suspend Libya’s membership on the U.N’s top human rights body for committing “gross and systematic violations of human rights.” General Assembly President Joseph Deiss called for the vote and signaled its adoption by consensus by banging his wooden gavel.

The resolution sponsored by Arab and African states also expressed “deep concern” about the human rights situation in Libya.

The vote does not permanently remove Libya from the council, but prevents it from participation until the General Assembly determines whether to restore the country to full status.

In Geneva earlier Tuesday, top Russian diplomats ruled out the idea of creating a no-fly zone over Libya as Gadhafi unleashed bombing raids, special forces and army troops in a desperate bid to stay in power.

However, British Foreign Minister William Hague said his country and its allies could seek to impose a no-fly zone in Libya without a U.N. mandate. Hague told BBC television on Tuesday that while “ideally” such an action would be sanctioned by a Security Council resolution, it wasn’t essential. In fact, the no-fly zones operated over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq by the U.S. and Britain did not receive such U.N. approval, while the one over Bosnia did.

The U.S. moved naval and air forces closer to Libya on Monday and said all options were open, including patrols of the North African nation’s skies to protect its citizens from their ruler. The Obama administration is demanding that Gadhafi relinquish power immediately.

France said it would fly aid to the opposition-controlled eastern half of the country. The European Union imposed an arms embargo and other sanctions, following the lead of the U.S. and the U.N. The EU and the U.S. have also talked about the possibility of creating a no-fly zone over Libya.

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