Thursday, 1 September 2011

Russia finally recognises NTC as Libya's acting leadership

Reports have emerged that Russia has recognised the National Transitional Council (NTC) as Libya's acting leadership. The news came hours ahead of an international summit in Paris aimed at planning-out Libya's future. The summit, consisting of 60 world leaders, will also look to unfreeze billions in Libyan assets to assist the TNC, and reconcile international differences over the NATO led campaign that helped push Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi out of power.

The meeting is the first of its kind for the NTC, which has recently taken Tripoli and now controls most of Libya. The Council is expected to present detailed plans, and may seek assistance from member countries in a form of short-term loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is also thought that the Council may seek a civilian UN police presence in the country to help with the transitional period and aid with the running of a country ravaged by months of civil war and four decades of dictatorship.

Russian was one of several countries to criticise NATO over its military undertakings in Libya. A statement on Thursday 1st September, however, release by Russia's Foreign Ministry said that the country now recognised the TNC as Libya's official authority. It is thought that other countries such as China and Algeria will be pressured to follow in Russia's footsteps.

China agreed to send a convoy to the Paris conference but is yet to recognise the NTC. It did, however, stress the fact that the UN should take a leading role in Libya's future. China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said that China respects the "role played by the National Transitional Council in the settlement of the Libyan issue."

The conference will focus mainly on the issue of unfreezing assets linked to Qadhafi in banks worldwide. The funds were blocked by a UN resolution earlier this year in a bid to deter Qadhafi from combating anti-government protests. The French authorities estimate at least $50 billion linked to Qadhafi across the world, but UK officials have put the figure as high as $110 billion.

Speaking about the issue, France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said: "France has just received authorization to transfer €1.5 billion which belongs to the Libyans…We have to aid the transitional council because the country is devastated. The humanitarian situation is difficult. They lack water, gas, electricity."

Qadhafi's whereabouts are unclear, after he was refused refuge in neighbouring Algeria. His wife and three sons, however, were granted asylum on Monday 29th August. As it stands, Libya now faces a tricky transitional period which will test the NTC to the full as it tries to restore law and order within the country.

Sources: BBC News, AFP, AP

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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