Libya contact group recognizes legitimacy of Libyan opposition

Libya contact group recognizes legitimacy of Libyan opposition
# 15 July 2011 19:22 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Libya’s opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) was recognized as the legitimate interlocutor on behalf of the Libyan people by the Libya contact group here on Friday, APA reports quoting Xinhua

"Henceforth and until an interim authority is in place, participants agreed to deal with the National Transitional Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya," the statement issued by the Libya contact group at the end of its one-day summit in Istanbul.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and officials from 32 countries and seven international organizations attended the group meeting in Istanbul.

"The contact group reaffirms that the (Muammar) Gaddafi regime no longer has any legitimate authority in Libya and that Gaddafi and certain members of his family must go," the statement said.

The group consisting of major western and regional powers welcomed the role of the NTC in leading the transition process in Libya and expressed support for its efforts to broaden its popular base to embrace all Libyan people, according to the statement.

The meeting also set forth overarching principles for a political transition process in Libya leading to national reconciliation, in which "all groups should have their voices heard."

The transition period will reflect the principles outlined in the NTC’s road map, including the formation of a national congress, an interim government, and a supreme executive council.

The group stressed the respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of Libya.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at a press conference shortly after the meeting that "the main topics of were a political solution to the Libyan crisis, the humanitarian situation and the post-Gaddafi era structure."

Davutoglu also emphasized the group’s decision to fully back the UN special envoy to Libya Abdul Ellah al Khatib in his efforts to negotiate with both Tripoli and opposition-based Benghazi.

"This is a clear message to both Tripoli and Benghazi that Mr. Khatib is the person who has the full backing of the international community," said Davutoglu.

"We agreed on a very important matter today and that is to recognize the NTC as the only legitimate interlocutor and voice of the Libyan people," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told journalists.

Funding for the NTC was also strongly encouraged and backed by the group.

While no agreement was reached by the group to utilize frozen Libyan assets, countries including Italy, Turkey and Qatar have chosen to unilaterally use frozen Libyan assets as collateral and make funds available to the Libyan oppositions.

Mahmoud Shamam, a senior NTC official said while Libya’s frozen assets have been pledged to the opposition, they have yet to receive anything substantial.

"Pledges have been made that we will receive 700-800 million U. S. dollars but we require something in the region of 3 billion U.S. dollars," he told journalists on the sidelines of the meeting.

The contact group also called for a cease-fire as a first step with Turkey and other Islamic countries hoping it would take effect before the commencement of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on August 1.

However, the Libyan opposition rejected any cease-fire in Ramadan. "Even the Prophet Mohammed fought during Ramadan. We will continue to fight for our lives," Shamam said.

NATO operations are also set to continue. "I think military operations should continue but political efforts need to increase as well," said Frattini.

"There is no option of Gaddafi remaining in power. Whether he stays in Libya or not after that is open to discussion," he said.

The Libya contact group was established in London on March 29 this year to provide political guidance for the endeavors of the international community with a view to resolving the crisis in Libya.
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