Dubai: Jubilation swept across Libya Monday as revolutionaries liberated 95 per cent of the capital in an overnight surprise sweep.
Although sporadic fighting continued throughout most of Monday, politically things moved fast with sweeping international support for the National Transitional Council (NTC) to begin its work in a post-Gaddafi Libya.
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The chief of the Libyan rebels’ council said that his ad hoc government was preparing to move to Tripoli.
“The heroic rebels have controlled almost all of Tripoli. Preparatory measures are being taken for the NTC to move to Tripoli. Trips are already being prepared,” Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the head of the council, told Al Arabiya news channel from Benghazi.
Arab League chief Nabeel Al Arabi expressed his “full solidarity” with the council.
While the whereabouts of Gaddafi remained unknown, rebels said they held three of his sons, including his heir apparent Saif Al Islam.
A US official said there was no evidence Gaddafi had fled the country. He has few friends left. His prime minister turned up in Tunisia. More Libyan embassies hoisted the rebel flag.
Al Jazeera said that of three Gaddafi sons captured, one — Mohammad — had escaped. It added that the body of a fourth, military commander Khamis, might have been found along with that of powerful intelligence chief Abdullah Al Senussi.
Many in the West expressed concern over the transition, with Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Monday urging the NTC to “make sure that the transition is smooth and inclusive, that the country stays united, and that the future is founded on reconciliation and respect for human rights.”
President Barack Obama said Monday that Gaddafi’s “rule is over” although elements of his regime continue to resist rebels.
He appealed to Gaddafi to prevent further bloodshed, and urged opposition forces to build a democratic government through “peaceful, inclusive and just” measures.
A Nato warplane shot down a scud missile fired from Sirte, Gaddafi’s home city east of Tripoli, Al Jazeera TV reported late Monday, citing information received by one of its correspondents.
Meanwhile, Turkey warned that the end of Gaddafi’s era should be a lesson for other leaders in the Middle East. “What is happening in Libya is a lesson for the leaders of the region,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.
UAE reaffirms support
General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Monday made a telephone call to Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Head of the Libyan National Transitional Council.
Shaikh Mohammad congratulated Abdul Jalil on the victory achieved by the council, and praised the wisdom shown by him in dealing with various developments in Libya.
Shaikh Mohammad reaffirmed the UAE's support for fulfilling the Libyan people's ambitions and aspirations. Shaikh Mohammad wished the Council success for the progress and stability of the Libyan people in various fields.
Unfreezing of assets
Western leaders have already set in motion plans for Libya's future.
- Britain said its frozen Libyan assets will soon be released to help the country's rebels "establish order". Britain has frozen about 12 billion pounds ($20 billion) of Libyan assets.
- British diplomats would move from Benghazi in the east to Tripoli "as soon as it was safe to do so".
- France announced plans for an international meeting next week.
- Italy has sent a team to the rebels' base of Benghazi to help plan reconstruction and the restoration of oil and natural gas production.
- With inputs from agencies