Libya’s rebel leadership has promised to create a constitution and hold elections after Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has been removed, as world leaders step up the pressure in a joint statement calling for the despot to relinquish power.

The statement, issued on 27 March after a two-day G8 summit in France, signals the commitment of the international community for regime change, and also marks the end of Russia’s objections to the air campaign against the regime.

Should Qaddafi refuse to step down after a visit by South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma, travelling to Libya in a mediating role on behalf of the African Union, the air campaign against the regime is likely to intensify.

The UK and France have confirmed that they will deploy ground attack helicopters, which can hit Qaddafi’s forces with greater accuracy. Allied air attacks had diminished in effectiveness as the Libyan army has placed troops and equipment in densely populated areas.

“Qaddafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfil their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go,” the communiqué reads.

In a statement issued on 28 May, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), applauded the G8 and the new Russian course.

Jalil promised a transition to a democratic system similar to roadmap laid out by the Egyptian army, which is heading a provisional government in Cairo, and has promised elections in September.

“The members of the National Transitional Council […] will diligently work to implement the roadmap and conduct elections promptly after establishing the constitution. We envision this to take place within six months from the fall of Gaddafi’s regime,” he said.

Present rebel leaders would be barred to run in the subsequent election, added Jalil:

“I wish to emphasize the resolution that was adopted by the Council in which no member, whether in the Executive Office or the National or Local Councils, has the right to run for any position in the period immediately following the fall of the Gaddafi regime.”

The military situation in Libya remains deadlocked, with the rebels lacking the cohesion, training and weaponry to defeat the army, and Qaddafi’s forces being pinned down by allied air attacks.

Oil exports have been reduced to irregular shipments out of rebel territory, after Qatar agreed to market rebel oil.