The future of Libya after the end of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule will be discussed by world leaders at a conference in Paris.
Rebel leaders have been invited to join representatives from countries that took part in the offensive against the Gaddafi regime, as well as China, Russia, India and Brazil.
A Downing Street spokesman said the meeting was a joint Franco-British initiative. “This will be an opportunity for the National Transitional Council (NTC) to set out how the international community can help them on the path to establishing a free, democratic and inclusive Libya,” he said.
“We have stood firmly by the Libyan people since their uprisings began six months ago and we will continue to lead international efforts to help them achieve their aspirations in the weeks and months ahead,” he added.
Libya needs more than $2 billion to pay wages and expenses in a post-Gadhafi period, the council’s foreign affairs minister, Mahmoud Jibril, said.
Some $37 billion of Libyan assets are frozen by the U.S. The U.S. Wednesday introduced a resolution to the U.N. to authorize the transfer of about $1.5 billion of this money to Libya for humanitarian needs. The U.S. expects the U.N Security Council to vote to approve the transfer on Thursday or Friday.
While Libya is rich in oil, four decades of rule by personality cult has left it with few institutions of normal governance.
Representatives will discuss urgent humanitarian relief requirements and future stabilization milestones, said Ahmed Jehani, the chairman of the stabilization team and Libya’s National Transition Council’s infrastructure and reconstruction minister.
Anxious to avoid the anarchy that followed the fall of Baghdad in 2003, rebel leaders and their Western backers began planning five months ago for the aftermath of Moammar Gadhafi’s defeat, long before it was clear how, or whether, the Libyan autocrat would fall.
Libya’s new masters will also meet their Western backers in Turkey on Thursday to secure funds and make plans for a future without Gaddafi after they announced a million dollar bounty for his capture.
Britain said NATO was giving intelligence and reconnaissance assistance to rebels hunting Gaddafi and his sons.
The stabilization team has managed so far to successfully restore GSM service, including that of the Internet, in Tripoli, as well as ensuring the delivery of goods and aid to Tripoli. “The Zawiya refinery has been secured and all associated facilities are being inspected and assessed,” said Aref Nayed, spokesman of the stabilization team and Libyan ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.
However, rebels said they were confident they could mop up diehard soldiers clinging to a leader now on the run, presumed to be in hiding in the country he ruled for four decades.
Rebel forces began to purge Tripoli’s streets of gunmen still loyal to Muammar Gaddafi on Thursday in the final phase of the battle for the Libyan capital.
“The end will only come when he’s captured, dead or alive,” said Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), who offered amnesty to any of Gaddafi’s entourage who killed him and announced a reward worth more than $1 million for his capture.
Their gains are however no guarantee of security or progress with Gaddafi and his entourage at large. Abdel Salam Jalloud, a close ally who switched sides last week, said Gaddafi planned to drop out of sight and then launch a guerrilla war:
“He is sick with power,” he said. “He believes he can gather his supporters and carry out attacks … He is delusional. He thinks he can return to power.”
In a poor-quality audio tape broadcast by satellite on Wednesday, Gaddafi, 69, urged Libya’s tribes to “exterminate traitors, infidels and rats.”
Gaddafi’s tribal home town of Sirte, on the coast between Tripoli and Benghazi, was still not in the hands of the new leadership who have dispatched forces there.
“Talks have been ongoing for two days now between NTC and tribal leaders from Sirte to liberate the city and ensure its inhabitants lay down arms and allow access to administrative buildings,” Nouri Echtiwi, a rebel spokesman in Tripoli, said. Rebels also reported fighting in the southern city of Sabha.
Meanwhile, government buildings were being stripped of anything of value. The images on Arab satellite TV of rebels grabbing the props of Gaddafi’s power, could invigorate other revolts in the Arab world, such as in Syria where President Bashar al-Assad has launched military crackdowns on protesters. [via Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and Sky News]