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Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 3:13 ( 1:13 GMT )
UK to Assist Rebels by Unfreezing Libyan's Funds
22/08/2011 19:00:00
While urging long-time Libyan leader Muammar Al Qathafi to step down, world leaders have further boosted the rebels' moral by even promising material support, with British prime minister David Cameron among the first to say that Libyan assets frozen during Al Qathafi's reign would soon be released to aid the rebels establish order in the country.

Acknowledging that events unfolding in Tripoli Monday showed yet another nation in the Middle East was seeing the "end of dictatorship and oppression," Cameron said that after imposing financial sanctions against Qaddafi's regime, Britain "soon will be able to release frozen assets that belong to the Libyan people,".

The European Union too said that it stands ready to help Libya's interim administration carry out reforms in the future, with spokesman Michael Mann saying: "The first thing we need to do is send a team in to appraise the needs of the authorities." He added that, "The sort of thing we could offer ... is humanitarian assistance, support for democratisation, help set up elections, institution-building and help with the economy."

He said however, that the EU's sanctions against the Libyan regime, including freezing the assets of the government and of state-run firms, will remain in force for the time being. "As soon as we judge that the time is right to help the population, we will change them," he said.

Security officials will have to assess the situation on the ground before the EU moves forward on the lifting of sanctions and providing more assistance, he added.

Meanwhile, leaders across the world urged Al Qathafi, still in hiding, to avoid a bloodbath of his own people and turn himself in to the International Criminal Court. U.S. President Barack Obama urged the Libyan leader to accept reality and relinquish power. "The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Muammar Al Qathafi and his regime need to recognise that their rule has come to an end," Obama said Sunday.

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini said "The time is up. There is no alternative to surrendering and handing himself in to justice. If Al Qathafi keeps inciting a civil war, he alone will be responsible for a dramatic bloodbath that we must all try to avert.”

Frattini said there was no longer room for mediation, including allowing Al Qathafi to go into exile or remain in Libya but relinquish power - as had been suggested at various points during the past six months of fighting.

Welcoming the rebels' advances., French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement that Al Qathafi should "avoid inflicting any more unnecessary suffering on his people by renouncing without delay what is left of his power and by immediately ordering the forces that are still loyal to him to cease fire."

In Germany, vice chancellor and Economy Minister Philipp Roesler told reporters: "I hope very much that Al Qathafi will be found very quickly, will be caught, and then handed over to the international court, brought very quickly to the Hague."

The International Criminal Court has indicted Al Qathafi, his son Seif, who is already in custody, and Libya's intelligence chief Senussi, on charges of crimes against humanity.

Outside of the country, Libyan expatriates celebrated what they felt was already the end of the regime. In Ankara, the Turkish capital, dozens of Libyans flocked to the embassy to celebrate the rebels' seizing much of Tripoli. They removed Al Qathafi's green flag from a mast and replaced it with the rebels' tricoloured one.

A similar scene occurred in Malta, where some 200 Libyans entered the Libyan embassy to hoist the Libyan independence flag while setting fire to pictures of Al Qathafi and the green flag. The celebrations continued through the night and were still on Monday morning.

In Russia, Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee, told the Interfax news agency that "the situation for Al Qathafi has passed the point of no return."

Russia denounced the NATO bombing of Al Qathafi loyalist forces, with Kosachev calling NATO's air strikes in Sunday night's assault on Tripoli "regrettable." He said this "will cast doubts on the legitimacy of current and future events in the country."


Another European leader to make comments about the situation in Libya is Danish prime minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen. "The celebrations we currently see in Libya, and not least in the streets of Tripoli, all point in one direction: the Libyan people's struggle for freedom has gone into the playoffs.

"It is crucial that the final phase is handled in a dignified manner and that the (opposition) NTC remains united to manage the transition toward the holding of free elections."
 
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