NTC flag at UN marks ‘new Libya’ | Pakistan Today

NTC flag at UN marks ‘new Libya’

The United Nations in Geneva has decided to display a new flag representing Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC). In the presence of Libyan UN ambassador Ibrahim Aldredi, the green, black and red flag was hoisted on Tuesday. For decades Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was an outlandish fixture at the UN General Assembly with his tent and rambling speeches, but this year those who ousted him will hold the spotlight.
The United States and its allies, who backed Libyan revolutionaries in their bid to end Gaddafi’s iron-fisted rule, will meet Tuesday on the sidelines of the annual meeting to discuss a post-Gaddafi future for the country. Tuesday’s meeting will come after the first talks between US President Barack Obama and Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of Libya’s National Transitional Council, now widely recognized as the North African nation’s government.
The talks will “confirm the start of a new phase which began with the Paris summit and the beginning of an increased role in the United Nations,” said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Monday. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was hailed as a hero when he visited Tripoli last week, will also join Tuesday’s talks. One of the aims of the talks will be to replace the Libya contact group with a “group of friends of Libya, whose make-up and function will be determined by the secretary general,” Juppe said. The NTC “will also voice its needs to help the country rebuild, and the international community will reaffirm its support for the new Libya.”
“On Tuesday, the new Libya will symbolically be fully integrated into the United Nations,” Juppe said, as the green, red and black flag used by the old Libyan monarchy was raised Monday for the first time at the United Nations.
Created on March 29 in London, the political “Contact Group” on Libya gathers some 30 countries and several international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO and the Arab League. It has worked to support the revolt against Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for four decades, including unblocking Gaddafi regime funds which had been frozen by governments around the world.
As the Palestinians press their bid for UN membership in the face of adamant US and Israeli opposition, Washington hopes to highlight Libya, where it believes its strategy has been a success. “We have put a lot of effort into Libya … the past several weeks to get international support for a post-Gaddafi Libya,” Obama’s national security advisor Ben Rhodes said Monday.
“At the meetings tomorrow, I think it is an effort to mark an extraordinary achievement by the UN,” he added, briefing reporters on Air Force One as Obama headed to New York. A UN resolution adopted earlier this year, which authorized the use of force to protect the Libyan opposition, was a “rare and historic moment where all necessary measures were provided to protect civilians,” Rhodes added.
Obama was hoping to hear the NTC’s “plans for an inclusive transition in Libya” while the talks would also underscore “the critical role the UN is going to play… as Libya moves to a post-Gaddafi government.” There has already been criticism about the slow pace of getting a new government off the ground in Libya. Its creation was put off indefinitely again on Sunday amid disputes over portfolios. Libya will also figure prominently in separate talks between Obama, Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Anti-Gaddafi forces seize key desert airport, garrison: Anti-Gaddafi fighters said Tuesday they had captured the airport and a garrison in the defeated Libyan despot’s southern redoubt Sabha, as fighting raged in two of his northern strongholds.
The capture of the airport and garrison at Sabha, a strategic desert city 800 kilometres (500 miles) south of Tripoli, was announced early Tuesday by Mohammed Wardugu, spokesman for the NTC’s “Desert Shield Brigade.”
Fighting still raged in some quarters of Sabha but the pro-NTC forces would take total control of the city “in some hours,” said Wardugu, brother of brigade commander Barka Wardugu.
He said NTC forces had also seized one of Gaddafi’s senior generals and forced more than 300 of his mercenaries to flee.
“General Belgacem Al-Abaaj, Gaddafi’s intelligence chief in the Al-Khofra region, was captured” on Monday some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Sabha, he said.
Abaaj, who had been sought by the NTC forces for committing “crimes … and sabotage” was seized with members of his family who were travelling in five four-wheel drive vehicles.

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