x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Qaddafi finished, says new ambassador to UAE

Libyan rebel officials urge foreign backers to increase Nato airstrikes and humanitarian aid.

Libyan Minister of Infrastructure and Reconstruction of the LIbyan Stabilisation Team, Ahmed Al Jehani, speaks during a press conference at the Libyan Consulate in Bur Dubai.
Libyan Minister of Infrastructure and Reconstruction of the LIbyan Stabilisation Team, Ahmed Al Jehani, speaks during a press conference at the Libyan Consulate in Bur Dubai.

DUBAI // Libyan rebel officials urged foreign backers to increase Nato airstrikes and humanitarian aid as they declared yesterday Day One of their post-revolution stabilisation effort.

Both were crucial to help civilians caught in a final battle against Col Muammar Qaddafi in the capital of Tripoli that began over the weekend, said Aref Nayed, the rebel-appointed ambassador to the UAE and chief executive of the rebel government's stabilisation team, which has its headquarters in Dubai.

Meanwhile, team members were holding overnight sessions to coordinate their many tasks for a transition to a democracy it is hoped will take eight months. Among those tasks are restoring basic needs like electricity, dealing with the regime's security forces and passing a new constitution.

"We declare it Day One because we feel that Qaddafi is already finished," said Dr Nayed yesterday.

"We urge the United Nations to consider this Day One and to begin immediately to mobilise its vast resources to help the Libyan people. We also encourage all nations, who have been waiting for Day One, to unleash all the goodness they can muster," he said.

"The Libyan people need it and they need it now."

Seventy members of the stabilisation team are working across Libya and overseas. Its two top leaders - Dr Nayed and Ahmed Al Jehani, the head of the team's steering committee and the minister of reconstruction for the rebel government - are operating from Dubai.

The committee had switched its headquarters from Benghazi, the de facto opposition capital in eastern Libya, after finding travel and communications too difficult. In Dubai they could more easily co-ordinate with the UN and other international partners.

These supporters had received lists of needs and some had begun to mobilise, said Dr Nayed.

Urgent items include medical care, food and water, particularly for civilians in Tripoli, he said. "We're going to need a lot more than what's been pledged or prepared."

Nato air cover in Tripoli was also essential to protect civilians, as mandated in a March UN Security Council Resolution, he said.

UAE officials "at the highest levels" had phoned late on Saturday to ask how they could help, he said.

After humanitarian aid, the most valuable role the UAE could play in the longer term was in reconstruction, Dr Nayed said in a separate interview last Friday.

The UAE "can save us a lot of time and effort by helping us with existing systems and ways of doing things", he said.

This included help with customs systems, construction, and seaports and airport management. The rebel government's oil minister was in talks with the UAE and other nations about helping it resume exports.

"We expect the UAE to not stop helping us after Qaddafi but to actually begin to help us even more with the reconstruction," he said.

Other tasks include dealing with the army, police and other forces that worked for the regime. Dr Nayed and Mr Al Jehani pledged that each would receive due process and not face retribution.

About 300,000 men would need to be rehabilitated, a process that would begin as soon as the fighting stopped, said Mr Al Jehani. Those who were willing would be invited to stay in their positions in security and law enforcement.

Meanwhile, a proposal was being circulated on how to set up transitional justice.

No special revolutionary courts would be created. Families would be allowed to pursue justice, but, encouraged by the rebel government and religious leaders, they would also be asked to forgive.

"The official policy of truth and reconciliation is of course, no witch hunt," said Mr Al Jehani. "We have now drafted a law to create a framework in which this can happen."

A 200-member constituent assembly would be formed and given three months to draft a constitution, he said. That would be put up for referendum and redrafted as needed.

"Hopefully," he said, "the whole thing will take eight to nine months until the day of transfer of power from the day of the fall of Qaddafi."

chuang@thenational.ae