Libya’s NTC: Battle Not Yet Finished

Posted September 8th, 2011 at 1:15 pm (UTC-5)
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A leader of Libya's provisional government says the battle for liberation is not yet finished.

The head of the National Transitional Council's executive committee, Mahmoud Jibril, told reporters in Tripoli Thursday there are still some cities in Libya's south that provisional authority fighters must free from pro-Gadhafi forces. He says peace and stability are the priority, and that the “political game” can only start once fighting ends and a new constitution is in place.

His comments show the fragile hold the former rebels have on the nation as it tries to move forward while ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi remains on the run.

Earlier in the day, a Syrian television station aired an audio message purportedly from Mr. Gadhafi, who slammed reports that he may have fled Libya to neighboring Niger.

In the comments broadcast on Al-Rai TV, Mr. Gadhafi called the reports “lies” designed to destroy morale and insisted he is still in Libya. He said his supporters will defeat NATO and are ready to fight transitional authority forces in the capital, Tripoli.

The National Transitional Council has sent envoys to Niger in an effort to prevent Mr. Gadhafi and associates from escaping justice by fleeing across the border. Mr. Gadhafi's whereabouts are not known, and Niger's government says the former strongman is not in the country.

In Tripoli, the new governor of Libya's central bank said Mr. Gadhafi sold about 20 percent of the country's gold reserves in the final days of his rule. Since April, Qassim Azzuz said the former government sold 29 tons of gold, worth $1.4 billion, to local merchants to pay salaries.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday the transition process in Libya cannot move backwards, and the United Nations will continue to help the Libyan people reach their aspirations of human rights and democracy.

NATO said Thursday its warplanes bombed five armored vehicles near Mr. Gadhafi's hometown, Sirte, as well as 18 surface-to-air missile systems around the town of Waddan, about 300 kilometers to the south.

Near Bani Walid, a desert town held by Gadhafi supporters, negotiators from Libya's National Transitional Council say they are committed to avoiding bloodshed as they press tribal elders tied to the former leader to surrender.