Libya’s NTC: Battle Not Yet Finished

Posted September 9th, 2011 at 12:05 am (UTC-5)
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The head of Libya's provisional government says the battle for liberation is not yet finished, and that the country must be unified in order to rebuild after six months of civil war.

Speaking in his first major address from the capital Tripoli on Thursday, National Transitional Council leader Mahmoud Jibril said there are still some cities in Libya's south in the hands of forces loyal to ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi. He says a new government can only be formed once fighting ends and the entire country is “liberated.”

Mr. Gadhafi remains on the run and his whereabouts are not known.

Earlier in the day, a Syrian television station aired an audio message purportedly from Mr. Gadhafi, who rejected reports he may have fled for neighboring Niger. Mr. Gadhafi said his forces are still able to carry out attacks against NTC fighters, who he called “rats, germs and scumbags.”

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. Niger 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, 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.