Conflict & Justice

World leaders to unfreeze Libyan assets


A Libyan rebel in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011.


Patrick Baz

World leaders meeting in Paris have agreed to release 15 billion dollars in frozen assets for Libya's interim leaders, the National Transitional Council.

Chairing the talks, French President Nicolas Sarkozy stressed the need for reconciliation, adding Nato military operations would continue as long as Muammar al-Gaddafi remained a threat.

Council members assured delegates from more than 60 nations that they would build a democratic and tolerant society – promising a new constitution and elections within 18 months, the BBC reported.

On the back of the meeting, Turkey on Friday reopened its embassy in Libya. The foreign ministry said its ambassador was traveling to Tripoli to start work.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the Security Council must take urgent action urgent to help the rebel council's transition to democracy.

The U.N. imposed sanctions in February and March as Gaddafi launched a crackdown on opposition protests.

But, according to media reports, an unnamed diplomat said after the Paris meeting that the Security Council could pass a resolution lifting some sanctions against Libya as early as next week.

(Read more on GlobalPost: Tripoli hospital helps heal the new nation)

The African Union head Jean Ping said the pan African body was not ready to recognise the rebel NTC as Libya's new government.

Led by South Africa, the A.U. has recently reiterated its opposition to Nato's military intervention in Libya.

Eighteen of the AU's 54 members have separately recognised the rebel leaders.

Despite Ping's comments, A.U. spokesman Noureddine Mezni said the NTC commitments that came out of the Paris meeting were a good sign.

The AU is pleased with the pledges made by the NTC at the Paris conference.

In Tripoli, an armed group on Thursday announced the creation of a military unit to protect the Libyan capital and restore order on the streets.

The group's general secretary, Abdullah Naqir, said more than 5,500 people had registered to join.

He said the unit is seeking endorsement from the rebel council.

In a second audio message on Thursday, Gaddafi said he was ready to fight a long guerrilla war. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Rebel fighters surrounding his hometown of Sirte have given loyalists an extra week to negotiate their surrender.