The West must release all Libya’s frozen assets in order for a new government to succeed following the uprising against the 42-year-rule of Muammar Qaddafi, a senior Libyan rebel figure said Friday.
“There will be high expectations after the collapse of the regime. The frozen assets must be released for the success of the new government to be established after the Qaddafi regime,” said Mahmud Jibril, number two in the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC).
He was speaking, through an interpreter, at a news conference with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu the day after senior diplomats of the Libya Contact Group met in Istanbul and underlined the need to empower the NTC with legal, political and financial means to form an interim government.
“Salaries of civil servants need to be paid,” said Mr. Jibril. “Life needs to continue on its normal course.”
The Qaddafi regime “is going through its final moments,” he added, calling for efforts to restore peace and stability.
“The arms (being used by rebel fighters) must swiftly be collected, so that we can establish a national army and a strong police force,” Mr. Jibril stressed.
Turkey’s Davutoglu hailed the release of $1.5 billion in the frozen Libyan assets by the UN sanctions committee as a “positive development.”
On Thursday, the UN Security Council released the $1.5 billion worth of assets to be used for emergency aid.
The NTC sought five billion dollars in emergency aid from frozen Libyan assets at a previous Contact Group meeting in Doha earlier this week.
“What belongs to Libyan people must be delivered to the Libyan people,” said Mr. Davutoglu.
He also called for the international recognition of the NTC as the legitimate representative of Libyan people.
Libya’s rebels announced Friday the transfer of their leadership to Tripoli from their Benghazi base.
Mr. Jibril also met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and was expected to leave Istanbul later in the day.
The rebel leader shared concerns with Turkish officials over legal obstacles before the news of the release of frozen assets by the UN Security Council and said the Libyans were in urgent need of funds, diplomatic sources told AFP.
The Libyan leader’s visit comes after Turkey, which claims to be a regional power, sent its foreign minister to the rebel bastion Benghazi on Tuesday. Turkey transferred $300 million in aid for the Libyans.
After the Istanbul meeting of high-ranking diplomats, Paris will next week host a summit of the international Contact Group coordinating a response to the Libyan conflict.
In Istanbul, the contact group diplomats stressed the importance of a united Libya and agreed, in a final declaration, that “such a process should be based on principles of inclusiveness, avoidance of retribution and vengeance.”
They also welcomed NTC’s efforts to win hearts and minds of the entire Libyan people.