Tripoli: Libya's new leadership reaffirmed their commitment to democracy and good governance yesterday as they worked on how to spend billions of dollars they have been given from the frozen assets of fugitive strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

A day after international powers met in Paris and agreed to hand over $15 billion (Dh55.2 billion) to the rebels who overthrew Gaddafi last week, the European Union, a key trading partner, rescinded a range of sanctions and officials from the National Transitional Council told financiers about their initial rebuilding plans.

The NTC's representative in London said that work on putting right the damage of 42 years of eccentric one-man rule and of six months of civil war should not wait until Gaddafi is found and the last bastions of armed support for him are defeated.

"As long as Tripoli, the capital, is stabilised and secure and safe, which it almost is now, and the overwhelming majority of other cities and towns, then Libyans can get on with the process of transition and stabilisation and the new political process," Guma Al Gamaty told the BBC.

In the eastern city of Benghazi, seat of the uprising, an NTC official, speaking privately, said the release of funds by Western powers who are backing them with Nato air strikes meant the NTC now had to show Libyans it was capable of governing:

"Before we had the excuse that we didn't have money when things went wrong," he said. "Now we don't have the excuse."

Gamaty reaffirmed the council's commitment to a document which lays out what he called a "clear roadmap" to democracy, including a constitution to be drafted within eight months, a referendum and then full elections in 2013.

Return to normal life

"By the end of about 20 months the Libyan people will have elected the leaders they want to lead their country," he said.

In Tripoli, residents were beginning to savour a return of normal life. A group of municipal street sweepers in high-visibility vests were picking up litter and spent bullet casings on Martyrs Square, formerly known as Green Square.

NTC fighters had removed some roadblocks on a main road along the shoreline and more foodstores were open, although water supplies and power remained erratic. Schools are expected to reopen on September 17.

Council leaders meet experts in Paris

The National Transitional Council's reconstruction minister, Ahmad Jihani, and Aref Nayed, a member of the council's rebuilding team, met experts in post-conflict rebuilding from groups like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and USAID in Paris yesterday.

Despite having access to some of the tens of billions of dollars Gaddafi had invested abroad, the new leaders will also need short-term aid and longer-term loans to help the North African state stave off a humanitarian crisis.

In order for Libya's new leaders to obtain aid from bodies such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank, they will need to be recognised by the IMF, which says it would need such a move to be supported by its 187 members.