Post-Gaddafi Libyan PM addresses UN General Assembly

De facto Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril gives first speech to world body, saying Libya on a new path to a constitutional democracy.

September 24, 2011 22:58
2 minute read.
De facto Libyan PM Jibril addresses UNGA

Mahmoud Jibril 311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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UNITED NATIONS - Libya's de facto Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told the United Nations on Saturday his country has been reborn after toppling Muammar Gaddafi and appealed for the release of remaining frozen Libyan assets.

"A new Libya is coming to life," he said in the first appearance by Libya's new leadership at the United Nations.

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He recalled how Gaddafi had stood at the same podium two years ago and tossed a copy of the UN charter over his shoulder as he accused big powers of betraying its principles.

Jibril, in a business suit and tie, cut a very different figure from the deposed Libyan ruler who appeared at the United Nations in 2009 in a copper-colored robe to denounce the West in what Jibril called "a pathetic, theatrical move."

Jibril, who headed a state economic think tank under Gaddafi until he resigned after his proposals for liberalizing the economy were rejected, told the UN General Assembly Libya was on a new path to a constitutional democracy and reconstruction.

"We do not claim we have a magic wand," he said, contrasting this with Gaddafi "who looked at himself in the mirror and suddenly discovered he is an almighty prophet with a solution to every problem on Earth, except for Libya's problems."

Jibril asked the UN Security Council to release all remaining Libyan assets out of an estimated $150 billion that were frozen under sanctions against Gaddafi.

UN diplomats say there are technical problems to resolve before the release of all the assets, some of which they fear could fall into the hands of Gaddafi, his relatives or aides.

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.

He acknowledged that NTC forces have yet to capture all of Gaddafi's strongholds, a vital goal if the NTC is to impose its authority across the oil-producing North African country.

"Libya is not fully liberated yet," Jibril said, referring to Gaddafi bastions such as Bani Walid and the ousted leader's birthplace of Sirte, where more battles raged on Saturday.

The NTC, still based in the eastern city of Benghazi, said last week it would move to Tripoli only after its forces are in full control of Libyan territory, despite an earlier pledge to move the interim administration to the capital in mid-September.

The NTC said on Friday it would unveil a "crisis" government in the next few days, signaling a breakthrough in efforts to form a more inclusive administration in the post-conflict phase.

If the NTC cannot swiftly impose control on Libya and its own forces, this may embarrass Western leaders, especially French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who gambled by backing the anti-Gaddafi movement.

Jibril said Libya could become a "gateway to migration" from Africa to Europe, arguing that African labor could contribute to European economic growth as the continent's population declines, even as Africa's booms in the next few decades.

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