Gaddafi could still destabilize N.Africa

UNITED NATIONS - NATO should continue operations in Libya as long as Muammar Gaddafi’s loyalists are killing civilians, and the toppled leader still could destabilize the region, Libya’s de facto prime minister said on Monday.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Mon 26 Sep 2011, 11:06 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:59 AM

U.N. Security Council resolution 1973, passed in March, called for protection of civilians by all available means, leading NATO to launch a campaign of air strikes that played a major role in helping rebels overthrow Gaddafi last month in the oil-producing North African nation.

The NATO actions have been strongly criticized by Russia, China and some developing countries, which have said they exceed the mandate provided by the resolution.

But de facto Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told a Security Council meeting on Libya that the “mission is far from accomplished” and that “the foundations of (resolution) 1973 continue to be valid.”

Asked later by reporters when the Western alliance should end its operations, Jibril said, “When there is no killing (of) civilians in Libya.” NATO agreed last week to extend its air-and-sea campaign in Libya for up to 90 days.

Jibril heads the executive committee of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), the voice of the rebel movement that rose up against Gaddafi’s 42-year-rule and drove him from power with support from the West and several Arab nations.

Gaddafi loyalists continue to fight the forces of the NTC in several Libyan cities, including Gaddafi’s birthplace Sirte.

“Gaddafi is still at large. He has a lot of assets — money, gold,” Jibril told the Security Council.

“The simple fact of thinking that he’s still free and he has at his disposal such wealth means that he is still able to destabilize the situation, not only within my country but also in the region of the Sahel in the African desert.”

“Gaddafi ... could return to his terrorist practices by providing arms across the continent,” Jibril said. “His arrest is imperative in order to re-establish stability throughout the region.”

Jibril repeated an appeal he made in the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday for the Security Council to completely free up extensive Libyan assets it froze soon after the conflict started in the country.

The council has made a start on unfreezing the assets, releasing some $16 billion, but says the process is complicated and will take time to avoid some assets falling into the hands of Gaddafi, his family or his associates.

Jibril said one result of releasing the assets would be to enable Libya to build up security forces to put a stop to human rights violations such as retaliation against African immigrants who have been suspected of fighting for Gaddafi.

“These vengeful acts do not reflect the policy of the NTC. They are horrendous acts that we vehemently reject,” Jibril said. “Investigations will continue to get to the bottom of this,” he said, adding that some Libyans had also been subjected to similar treatment by “some groups.”

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