Africa

UN envoy arrives to discuss Libya future

  • 3 September 2011
  • From the section Africa
Libyans celebrate in Tripoli, 2 Sept
The NTC says it will move to Tripoli from its stronghold of Benghazi next week

A special envoy for the UN secretary general has arrived in Libya's capital to try to boost international efforts in the country's redevelopment.

Ian Martin arrived in Tripoli to discuss how the UN can help the interim National Transitional Council (NTC).

The NTC is still trying to track down Col Muammar Gaddafi and his loyalist forces in a number of areas.

Meanwhile, documents have emerged throwing light on US and UK cooperation with the Gaddafi regime.

The files, which were found by Human Rights Watch, contain correspondence between Libyan intelligence and the CIA, MI6 and other agencies.

'Big challenge'

Mr Martin said on arrival his role was to aid the NTC.

"I think the future leaders of Libya face a very big challenge, they have already shown the ways in which they are ready to tackle that challenge and it will be the commitment of the United Nations to assist them in any way they ask," he said.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said it was important for the international community to "come together with an effective, well-coordinated programme of action".

Mr Ban said the immediate challenge was humanitarian.

"Roughly 860,000 people have left the country since February, including skilled guest workers. Public services are under severe strain, including hospitals and clinics. There is a major water shortage."

But he insisted: "The future destiny of Libya must rest in the hands of the Libyan people."

The NTC said on Saturday that it hoped to restart oil production at the Misla and Sarir fields on 12 or 13 September.

Libya's oil ministry, the National Oil Corporation, reopened on Saturday, saying it hoped to return to the pre-war output of 1.6 million barrels per day within 15 months.

The ministry, which oversees Africa's largest oil reserves, said five international oil firms were already back and working to resume operations.

CIA rendition

Meanwhile, media reports on Saturday said documents had been found showing close ties between Col Gaddafi's intelligence services and their US and UK counterparts in recent years.

The CIA reportedly sent terror suspects to Libya for interrogation, while MI6 passed details of exiled Gaddafi opponents to Tripoli.

Fuel shortages near Misrata - the economy is now the key NTC concern

The documents, found by Human Rights Watch, include personal messages sent from MI6 and CIA chiefs to Col Gaddafi's former spy chief Moussa Koussa.

Mr Koussa defected early in the rebellion, flying to Britain and then to Qatar. Rights groups have accused him of involvement in atrocities.

One paper apparently documents correspondence on the transfer of suspected militant Abdel-Hakim Belhaj from Libya to CIA custody.

Mr Belhaj, who now heads anti-Gaddafi forces in Tripoli, said he had been tortured at a secret prison then returned to Libya.

Another document apparently shows that Britain helped Col Gaddafi with his speech-writing.

The UK Foreign Office said it was not its policy to comment on intelligence matters.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the disclosures related to the previous Labour government and that he had "no knowledge... of what was happening behind the scenes at that time".

Loyalists still fighting

On the ground in Libya, the NTC says it is set to move to Tripoli from its stronghold of Benghazi.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the NTC leader, told his supporters it would move within the next week.

The authorities have urged groups of anti-Gaddafi gunmen patrolling Tripoli to go home, as they try to restore normality in the capital.

In other parts of the country Gaddafi loyalists are continuing to fight.

They are still in control of Col Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, and the smaller towns of Bani Walid and Sabha.

Anti-Gaddafi forces are slowly advancing on Sirte, after they gave loyalists there until 10 September to surrender.

A pro-Gaddafi Syrian TV station said Nato had dropped leaflets on Sirte calling on it to surrender, but that the "young men" of the city had burned the leaflets.

The NTC plans to install democracy in Libya during the next 20 months and has also said getting the economy back up and running is a priority.

The six-month rebellion that toppled Col Gaddafi came after 42 years of authoritarian rule.

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