UN to Release $1.5 Billion for Libya

Posted August 25th, 2011 at 5:50 pm (UTC-5)
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United Nations diplomats say the United States and South Africa have reached a deal to allow the release of $1.5 billion in Libya's frozen assets for urgent humanitarian aid, including the purchase of fuel and the provision of social services.

The assets, which were blocked under U.N. sanctions, would be released to the Transitional National Council led by opponents of embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

However, South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Baso Sangqu said Wednesday that although Pretoria does not object to releasing the first $500 million, it has concerns about the remaining $1 billion. Sangqu said “it is important that the monies of Libya go to the rightful owners of Libya, and to the rightful people of Libya.”

Ambassador Sangqu said Pretoria has not yet recognized the TNC as the sole, legal representative of the Libyan people, and that is another reason why it is reluctant to release the funds.

The Libya Contact Group, meeting in Istanbul Thursday, urged the U.N. to unlock frozen Libyan assets.

In Italy, senior figure in Libya's opposition governing council, Mahmoud Jibril, appealed for financial help, warning there will be grave destabilization if the council cannot pay people's salaries and provide services in the post-Gadhafi era.

Jibril listed some of the priorities for the TNC in coming weeks. They include establishing order and stability, starting transitional justice, collecting weapons from the streets and starting to build a national army. He said the council needs to prepare for the school year, which should start next month, and provide urgent care for the wounded, both in Libya and in hospitals in other countries. He said Libya needs to repair its power stations and other infrastructure destroyed in fighting with pro-Gadhafi forces. But he said these priorities cannot be carried out without the financial means to do so.

And the Arab League has accepted the Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan state. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said Libya will resume its membership in the pan-Arab organization Saturday, represented by the TNC.