|The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, says discussions are under way to unfreeze more funds [EPA]|
A senior official in the Libyan rebels’ transitional government has called on the West to release all of Libya’s frozen assets, as rebel fighters consolidate their grip on the capital, Tripoli.
Mahmoud Jibril’s comments on Friday followed a Libyan Contact Group meeting in Istanbul, Turkey and the announcement by the United States and South Africa of a deal allowing the release of $1.5bn in frozen Libyan funds.
The money will be used for humanitarian aid and other civilian needs, according to UN diplomats.
“There will be high expectations after the collapse of the regime,” said Jibril, speaking through an interpreter, at a joint news conference with Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister.
“The frozen assets must be released for the success of the new government to be established after the Gaddafi regime,” said Jibril, the number two in the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC).
“Salaries of civil servants need to be paid,” said Jibril. “Life needs to continue on its normal course.”
The Gaddafi regime “is going through its final moments”, he added, calling for efforts to restore peace and stability.
“The arms [being used by rebel fighters] must swiftly be collected, so that we can establish a national army and a strong police force,” Jibril said.
Davutoglu, in his remarks, hailed the release of $1.5bn in the frozen Libyan assets by the UN Security Council as a “positive development”.
But the South African delegation at the UN said it did not support funds going directly to the Libyan rebel government, which the African Union has not officially recognised.
Pretoria insisted that there be no mention to the NTC in the official request for the release of the funds.
Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey in New York said there was “a lot of diplomatic pressure coming from the USA and Britain on South Africans to change their position”.
UN diplomats said the NTC would be involved in deciding how to use the money.
Up to $37bn Libyan assets are still frozen in the US. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, has said “discussions are under way to ensure more funds are released”.
Meanwhile, in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the African Union was meeting on Friday to decide whether to recognise the NTC, said Nazanine Moshiri, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Addis Ababa.
“At the top of the agenda is whether or not to recognise the NTC. What we’re hearing is that there’s a lot of lobbying from countries like Nigeria – big player in African Union – to get this acceptance,” she said.
“The reality – for many here – is that the NTC is now moving to Tripoli and it has to be recognised at some point. But there will be conditions attached. That’s what we are hearing … conditions like the NTC must make sure that peace and security will be brought to Libya as soon as possible.”
Our correspondent said there are also conditions that the NTC may not accept – such as African leaders calling for Gaddafi officials to be involved in the transition process.
“If the African Union does decide to accept Libya’s opposition as the rulers of Libya … that will be a huge deal for the African Union because for so many years Colonel Gaddafi was the big man here. He not only provided massive funds but he also helped found the African Union,” she said.
Awidan Ali, an ambassador from the NTC attending the AU meeting, told Al Jazeera more than 16 African countries had recognised the rebels’ transitional government.
“Africa is going to recognise the NTC very soon,” he said.
Gulner Aybet, a security analyst at the University of Kent in the UK, said from Izmir, Turkey that a major problem facing the potential new Libyan administration in post-conflict reconstruction is the provision of a secure environment.
“In the first stages of that [reconstruction] what we’re likely to see is some DDR – disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration – of the existing armed forces in which NATO will probably play some kind of a role,” she told Al Jazeera.
“The important thing at this stage is to get the international community to act together.”