Libyan Rebel Chief Says Govt’s Success Hinges on Releasing Assets

Posted August 26th, 2011 at 5:40 am (UTC-5)
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The head of Libya's rebel government says the only way it can succeed is if the international community frees all of his country's assets frozen during Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's reign.

Libya's Transitional National Council chief Mahmud Jabril said Friday that the opposition needs the money in order to pay the salaries of civil servants and maintain services.

He was speaking in Istanbul, where he had attended a meeting of diplomats a day earlier focused on the Libyan crisis. The stop in Turkey was the latest in his European tour this week aimed at gaining the release of Libyan assets frozen abroad.

On Thursday, the United States said it soon will release $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan assets to the country's opposition-run council for urgent humanitarian aid.

The United Nations Security Council approved the funds' release after the United States and South Africa reached a deal, designating where the funds would go. Earlier, South Africa had expressed hesitation about releasing the funds, concerned they may end up in the wrong hands.

Instead of asking that the funds be released specifically to the opposition's Transitional National Council, Washington changed the authorization to say they will be designated for the “relevant authorities” in Libya. However, U.S. officials say the money still should reach the TNC in a matter of days.

South African diplomats said they felt the original language implied recognition of the TNC prematurely. They said they wanted to consult with the African Union first, which has yet to declare in favor of the Libyan rebels.

However, many in the international community — including the Arab League — have recognized the TNC as Libya's new representative on the world stage.