Venezuela opposes rebels in Libya’s U.N. seat

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Countries belonging to a left-leaning Latin America trade group oppose giving Libya’s U.N. member seat to the former rebels who ousted Muammar Qaddafi’s government, the Venezuelan ambassador said in a Wednesday letter to the new General Assembly president.

Ambassador Jorge Valero wrote to General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser that foreign ministers of the countries in the ALBA group agree that Libya’s United Nations seat should not be occupied by “an illegitimate transitory authority imposed by foreign intervention.”

Rather, they say, the seat should not be filled until “a legitimate government is established” that “reflects the free and sovereign will of the Libyan people.”

Libya’s U.N. seat still belongs to Qaddafi’s government. Opposition diplomats who months ago disavowed the strongman, and who have close ties with the former rebels’ National Transitional Council, have continued to staff the country’s U.N. mission offices.

The General Assembly’s new credentials committee agreed by consensus on Wednesday to recommend that the council get Libya’s seat, said a U.S. official, whose country sits on the committee. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed.

The letter of opposition by regional group increases the likelihood that a formal vote call on the matter will be needed, rather than a simple consensus, when the General Assembly acts on the request in the coming days.

The former rebels’ council has been recently recognized by a number of countries, including Russia and China.

But the government headed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has remained steadfast in its longtime support of Qaddafi.

The foreign ministers of the other ALBA countries - Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda - traveled to Caracas last week to discuss the situation in Libya.

Chavez said Wednesday that he foresees lively discussions in this month’s U.N. General Assembly over Libya.

Chavez, a strong defender of Qaddafi, said the assembly would be hotly debating “the Libyan issue, the war, the genocide in Libya.”