Saturday 20 January 2018

'New Libya' gets blessings of 60 countries to rebuild democracy

John Lichfield in Paris

SIXTY countries met in Paris last night to shower symbolic blessings on the "new Libya".

Several previously reluctant godmothers -- Russia, China and Germany -- turned up for the party, co-hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The brief summit, more celebration and photo-opportunity than negotiation, was expected to demand the rapid release of up to $110bn (€77bn) of Libyan assets frozen around the world.

It was also expected to push for a co-ordinated UN programme to help build democratic Libyan institutions, from political parties to a police force and a free press.

Most of all -- despite the unfinished business of the whereabouts of Gaddafi -- the Paris summit was intended to celebrate and consecrate the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the only legitimate political voice in Libya until elections can be held, possibly next year.

Avoiding "another Iraq" in the "new Libya" -- a descent into factional or tribal civil war -- was the unspoken purpose of the Paris meeting.

Russia, which had previously sniped at the NATO military campaign in Libya, tersely announced its recognition of the TNC a few hours before the summit. China has yet to do so but gave de facto recognition by sending an official.

Only South Africa, which enjoyed good relations with Gaddafi, refused to attend. South African President Jacob Zuma accused Western nations yesterday of undermining efforts by the African Union to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

Irish Independent

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