Accessibility links

World Leaders Back Libya Council; Qaddafi Vows To Fight On

Fugitive ex-Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi

Fugitive ex-Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi

On the day that would have marked 42 years of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi's repressive rule, world leaders have pledged to support the rebuilding of the country under the leadership of the National Transitional Council (NTC).

Envoys from 60 nations and world bodies including the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, and the Arab League met in Paris on September 1 for the "Friends of Libya" conference, aimed at mapping out the country's future as it confronts the post-Qaddafi era.

Speaking alongside NTC head Mustafa Abdel Jalil and Prime Minister Mahmud Jibril, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Libyan's interim leaders had won the support of the international community to transition the country to democracy.

"These are our commitments today. They are right because we cannot afford a failed pariah state on Europe's borders. They are right because we will all lose if the Arab Spring gives way to a cynical winter of repression. And they are right because the Libyan people deserve our support," he said.

"The world bet on the Libyans and the Libyans showed their courage and made their dream real," Jibril said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that $15 billion in Libyan assets frozen in overseas banked are now "immediately unfrozen."

The United Nations, which froze assets linked to the Qaddafi regime under a sanctions resolution in March, has already unblocked some $6 billion in Libyan assets from banks in the United States, Britain, and France.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the interim leaders to seek reconciliation, not retribution, after their victory over Qaddafi, and pledged support for the transition.

Saying "the work does not end with the end of an oppressive regime" Clinton said the international community "will be watching and supporting Libya's leaders as they keep their stated commitments to conduct an inclusive transition, act under the rule of law and protect vulnerable populations."

"The international community, led by the United Nations, need to help the Libyan people and their leader pave a path to peaceful, inclusive democracy -- one that banishes violence as a political tool and promotes tolerance and pluralism," Clinton said.

Clinton also told the meeting that the coalition's military campaign should continue as long as civilians are under threat, but said United Nations sanctions should be lifted in a responsible way and the new leaders given Libya's UN seat.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Libya's interim leaders had presented a list of areas where international support is needed, ranging from policing to elections preparation to "transitional justice."

He said the country's most immediate challenge, however, is humanitarian, calling for "prompt action" and warning that shortages of medicine, food, and water were creating a "major crisis."

"Time is of the essence. In the days ahead we will look to the [UN] Security Council for prompt action on a mandate. The United Nations will then deploy a civilian mission [to Libya] as rapidly as possible," he said.

NATO has also warned that the fighting in Libya isn't over yet and Qaddafi still threatens civilians.

Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO will continue its operations to safeguard the Libyan people "as long as necessary."

While Qaddafi's whereabouts remain unconfirmed, fresh evidence that he has not given up the fight came as the Paris meeting was under way in the form of an audio message broadcast on Arab television channels.

Qaddafi encouraged loyalists to fight back, saying, "Everything you hear is lies, don't believe it. Fight it with guns, fight it with bullets; let bullets speak on behalf of the Libyan people. If they want to enter into a long war with us, let it be so. We will fight, from place to place, from city to city, from valley to valley, from mountain to mountain, let there be a long war, and we will show them they cannot rule Libya and the Libyan people, they cannot rule our armed tribes and our armed people."

Amid conflicting reports of where he might be, a commander in the forces of the new ruling council said Qaddafi had fled to a desert town south of the capital, one of several tribal bastions still holding out.

Abdel Majid Mlegta, coordinator of the Tripoli military operations room for anti-Qaddafi fighters, said Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi also are thought to be in Bani Walid, 150 kilometers southeast of Tripoli, with Qaddafi.

Mlegta said the three were setting up a command center in order to continuing fighting.

A NATO spokesman said that alliance air strikes hit several rocket launchers near Sirte on Wednesday, as well as an ammunition storage facility and a military command post near Bani Walid.

compiled from agency reports

Show comments