Recognition for rebels but fight 'not over'
Obama says Libya's future now in "the hands of the people", while Arab nations officially recognise opposition council.
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2011 07:16

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was told explicitly to give up his power by US President Barack Obama, who also warned the jubilant rebel fighters that their struggle was "not over yet."

"But this much is clear, the Gaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people," said Obama from his holiday retreat.

The US president, who has faced criticism from US politicians for his handling of the conflict, promised Libya's people that Washington would be "a friend and a partner" as the strife-torn country grappled with the "huge challenges ahead."

Yet as fighting continued into the early hours of Tuesday morning in Tripoli, Obama was cautious about the current position, saying that "the situation is still very fluid," and that "there remains a degree of uncertainty, and there are still regime elements who pose a threat."

Announcing a special Libya summit with the heads of the European Union, Arab League and African Union this week in New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Gaddafi's fighters to "cease violence immediately and make way for a smooth transition."

"This is a hopeful moment, but there are risks ahead," Ban said.

Arab recognition

The Arab League released a statement on Monday, officially recognising the National Transitional Council for the first time. "Arab League chief Nabil Al Arabi offers his full solidarity with the ongoing efforts under the leadership of the NTC," the Cairo-based League said.

The Arab League suspended Libya's membership after Gaddafi's forces launched its crackdown in response to the uprising which began in February. The league then backed a no-fly zone over Libya patrolled by mostly western powers, a historic move given Arab opposition to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Egypt also voiced its support for the new Libyan leadership, which was demonstrated in a statement released by the country's foreign minister, Mohammad Kamel Amr. "Egypt recognised the new system in Libya and its legitimate leadership represented in the Libyan National Transitional Council."

Amr said the premises of Libya's permanent representative at the Arab League would be handed over to the NTC. Until Monday, Egypt, which had around 1.5 million migrant workers in Libya before the conflict erupted, had previously avoided any official mention of the council.

Later on Monday, the Palestinian Liberation Authority also announced its recognition of the Libyan rebels' national council, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

"The Palestinian state and the Palestinian liberation Authority announce their recognition of the Libyan National Transitional council," the agency said quoting presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah.

Morocco officially recognised the rebel's NTC as the "only legitimate representative" of the Libyan people, and officials in Rabat confirmed that the country's top diplomat is scheduled to travel on Tuesday to Benghazi, the Libyan rebel stronghold, to bring a message from Morocco's King Mohammad VI.

This make Morocco the first country in the Maghreb to establish direct contact, at a high ministerial level, with what it considers to be the new Libyan authorities,

Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, voiced his support for the rebels, convinced the country will not enter post-invasion chaos, like Iraq did, after foreign intervention.

"It will not end in a tribal conflict because it is an oppressed people's struggle," Nuri al-Maliki told journalists. "We stand ... with all people who are looking for their freedom."

China takes note

China also joined in the congratulatory statements, saying that it respected the Libyan people's choice in attempting to oust Gaddafi's regime.

"We have noticed recent changes in the Libyan situation and we respect the Libyan people's choice," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement.

"We hope that the Libyan situation will stabilise at an early date so that people there can live a normal life," said Ma.

He said China was "ready to cooperate with the international community" in Libya's reconstruction.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an old Gaddafi ally, was a lone voice of foreign support for the crumbling regime, accusing Western powers of "destroying Tripoli with their bombs."

Al Jazeera and agencies
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