Interim Libyan PM: New Govt. in 7-10 Days

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 9:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Libya's interim prime minister says his administration will form a new government within the next seven to 10 days.

Mahmoud Jibril spoke to reporters Tuesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He said Libya's National Transitional Council is finalizing decisions on the exact number of ministries and whether they would all be located in the capital, Tripoli, or divided between eastern and western Libya.

The NTC was based in the eastern stronghold of Benghazi during most of the country's ongoing civil war.

Libya's new flag flew at the U.N. Tuesday for the first time since former leader Moammar Gadhafi's ouster. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon welcomed the country's new leaders into the international community, saying the Security Council acted to protect the Libyan people from violence.

U.S. President Barack Obama, also in New York for the General Assembly, said his administration will support Libya as its government works to build a “free, democratic and prosperous” future. He said Libya will have a “friend and partner” to assist its citizens as they transition to democracy.

Earlier Tuesday, the 54-member African Union officially recognized the NTC and announced its support in building an inclusive government in Libya. The AU had been reluctant to recognize the provisional authority because some AU nations had close ties to Mr. Gadhafi.

As world leaders embrace the former rebels who overthrew him, Mr. Gadhafi denounced Libya's interim government and predicted its quick demise once NATO warplanes end their attacks on loyalist forces. He called the NTC's rise a “charade.”

Mr. Gadhafi's message was broadcast on Syria's Al-Rai television. The station has carried several messages from Mr. Gadhafi, who has not been seen since provisional authority forces seized Tripoli last month.

An NTC commander said late Tuesday that his forces have taken control of most of Mr. Gadhafi's southern desert stronghold of Sabha. The city, 650 kilometers south of Tripoli, controls the main trail to neighboring Niger – an escape route used by members of Mr. Gadhafi's entourage.

Anti-Gadhafi fighters are still struggling to oust loyalists from the towns of Bani Walid and Sirte, and to contain disunity within their ranks.

In related news, a human rights group says European countries are not doing enough to help resettle thousands of refugees living on Libya's borders in Tunisia and Egypt.

London-based Amnesty International estimates that 5,000 refugees – mainly Africans – cannot go back to Libya and face possible persecution if they return to their home countries. The group says the European response has been “abysmal,” with eight nations so far offering to take in fewer than 700 refugees.