Pretoria- A United Nations summit in support of Libya yesterday backed the transition plans of the country’s new authorities and pledged their ongoing support to help the North African country establish the rule of law, uphold key human rights and promote both economic recovery and public security.
More than 50 heads of State or government, took part in the meeting, hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN Headquarters in New York. This summit follows months of conflict between pro-democracy groups and forces supporting the ousted regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Those attending included President Jacob Zuma, who is also the Head of the AU panel on Libya, United States President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, whose countries led the UN-backed air campaign to protect civilians from attack by Gaddafi forces.
Addressing the meeting Zuma said South Africa has decided to recognise the National Transitional Council (NTC) as Libya is now on the path to ending the conflict.
Zuma said the Libyan people now have an opportunity under the leadership of the NTC to establish a democratic state. “We will certainly give our full support,” he said.
“Libya is slowly emerging from a bloody conflict that saw many killed in their determination to seek a better life and to realize their legitimate aspirations. The situation in Libya has improved, but there is still a long way for the Libyans to go in achieving lasting peace, security and stability,” Zuma told the UN.
Zuma said South Africa supports the international post-conflict reconstruction, reconciliation and rebuilding efforts to assist the Libyan people in turning a new leaf from this conflict.
“UN assistance in this endeavour is critical especially as it will also serve as the foundation for coordinating all efforts to support Libya’s post-conflict reconstruction. Libyan national ownership and inclusiveness of the reconstruction process is critical,” he added.
The immediate challenge in Libya, Zuma continued is for a peaceful conclusion to the conflict, which must include a cessation of hostilities and an end to the NATO military campaign as a prerequisite for stability.
“This stability would enable the Libyan people to focus their efforts to reconcile and to reconstruct their country. The initial threat, which warranted a no-fly zone no longer exists.
“We should therefore work towards the lifting of the no-fly zone as soon as possible in order to retain the integrity of the United Nations as the center that harmonizes the actions of nations in the pursuit of universal peace,” said Zuma.
Officials from the NTC, outlined some of their plans to the meeting – held just days after the Security Council authorized the creation of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) for an initial three-month period.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, President of the NTC, told the gathering that the key short-term challenges include eliminating the last pockets of pro- Gaddafi resistance, meeting the demand for reconstruction, and compensating families who lost loved ones during the months of conflict.
In a statement issued after yesterday’s meeting, participants commended the Libyan people for having “fought heroically for the respect of fundamental human rights, rule of law, dignity and freedom of expression.”
They also voiced support for the NTC’s plans for the transition period and promised to mobilize international support in such areas as elections, constitution-making, human rights, security, gender issues and economic recovery.
The participants urged the NTC to move swiftly to form an inclusive government “that reflects the full diversity of Libyan society and aims to build a new, united, democratic and pluralistic Libya in which human rights, fundamental freedoms and justice will be guaranteed.”
In his address to the meeting Ban welcomed the installation of a new flag for Libya, which now flies outside UN Headquarters along with the standards of all other UN Member States.
“We offer congratulations and best wishes for the future,” the Secretary-General told the representatives of the NTC. “For the past seven months, you have fought courageously for your fundamental rights and freedoms.
“Women and young people were in the vanguard, demanding a say in the political and socio-economic life of their country. As you look to the future, I want you to know that the United Nations will support you in every way we can.”
With the new Libyan flag flying at the UN headquarters, the authorities said they will announce the formal government in the next 7-10 days. -BuaNews