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UK says rebels must plan for post-Gaddafi Libya

Gaddafi says he has no intention of stepping down. He says he is supported by all Libyans.

News18test sharma |

Updated:June 6, 2011, 7:47 AM IST
UK says rebels must plan for post-Gaddafi Libya
Gaddafi says he has no intention of stepping down. He says he is supported by all Libyans.

Tripoli: Libya's rebel leaders must plan in detail how they would run the country if Muammar Gaddafi stood down and should learn from Iraq after the 2003 invasion, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday.

Western governments and the Libyan rebels say a combination of NATO air strikes, diplomatic isolation and grass-roots opposition will eventually end the Libyan leader's 41-year rule.

But they are worried that his departure could leave a vacuum that leads to violence and instability, as happened in Iraq after the US-led invasion of 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein.

The rebel National Transitional Council, based in the eastern stronghold of Benghazi, has a plan for how it would act if Gaddafi left but it is only embryonic, Hague told the BBC.

"We're encouraging the National Transitional Council to put more flesh on their proposed transition - to lay out in more detail this coming week what would happen on the day that Gaddafi went - who would be running what, how would a new government be formed in Tripoli?"

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said "it's only a matter of time" before Gaddafi stood down. "Day by day Gaddafi is seeing the people that are closest to him walking away," Gates told troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in answer to questions.

"Clearly the continuing pounding he's taking, the international isolation, is all having an effect. The entire international community is basically saying he's got to go," Gates said.

Britain and France were the driving force behind NATO's military intervention in Libya. Hague visited Benghazi on Saturday and was greeted by crowds shouting "Libya free!" and "Gaddafi go away!"

Gaddafi technocrats

He said the rebels planned to bring technocrats from Gaddafi's ruling circle into the new leadership, a lesson learned from Iraq where the decision to bar members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party from government posts fuelled instability.

"No de-Baathification, so certainly (the rebels are) learning from that," said Hague. "They now need to publicise that more effectively, to be able to convince members of the current regime that that is something that would work."

Gaddafi says he has no intention of stepping down. He says he is supported by all Libyans - apart from a minority whom he has described as "rats" and al Qaeda militants - and says NATO has intervened to steal Libya's oil.

The government condemned Hague's visit to the rebel headquarters as a violation of Libya's sovereignty.

"The sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people is the Libyan state, not a group of people representing themselves only," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Four months after thousands of Libyans rose up against his rule, and his security forces responded with a fierce crackdown, Gaddafi remains in control of most of western Libya.

The rebels control the east, the western city of Misrata and a mountain range near the Tunisian border. But Gaddafi's better-equipped forces blocked their advance on the capital.

The British defence ministry said its Apache helicopters were in action for a second day, using missiles to destroy a multiple rocket launch system on the coast near the eastern town of Brega.

The ministry also said its Tornado aircraft, with other NATO warplanes, had attacked a surface-to-air missile depot in Tripoli on Saturday.

In Tripoli, government media officials took reporters to St Mark's, a Coptic Christian church next door to a military facility destroyed by NATO bombing.

Media minders would not let reporters film the bombed-out facility and would not explain its purpose. From the road, reporters could see rows of aluminium-covered hangars that had been blasted to pieces.

Divine protection

The daughter of the church's priest, Father Timothaus, said she was sleeping in living quarters at the church when the bombers struck, breaking panes of glass in the church.

"I cried the first time, but the next time I did not cry," Mora, 9, said in English. "My father was always telling me - God will take care of you, God will take care of you."

A rebel spokesman in the town of Nalut, part of the Western Mountains range near Tunisia, asked why NATO was not doing more to protect civilians in the region.

"Gaddafi's forces have been shelling Nalut for about 24 hours. Twelve people were wounded yesterday," said the spokesman, called Kalifa. "We do not know why NATO has not hit the (pro-Gaddafi) brigades positioned in our area," he said.

Rebel fighters have pushed Gaddafi's forces out of Misrata after weeks of fighting that killed hundreds of people. Youssef, a rebel spokesman, said three rebels were killed in continued fighting in the suburb of Dafniyah on Saturday, but that Misrata was quiet on Sunday.

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