Sun, September 04, 2011
World > Africa > War clouds hover over Libya

Libya rebels urge Gaddafi loyalists to surrender

2011-09-04 05:30:33 GMT2011-09-04 13:30:33(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BENGHAZI, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Libyan rebels Saturday urged Gaddafi loyalists to surrender within a week, while asking international assistance for reconstruction.

Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil gave cities loyal to toppled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi one week to surrender.

Jalil, at a press conference held in Benghazi, said the rebels would give one week to pro-Gaddafi forces in Sirte, Bani Walid and other cities to lay down their arms, adding "this notice does not mean we are not aware of what Muammar Gaddafi's loyalists are doing."

He said the NTC forces are capable of deploying troops in any city or town and they would use military means after "the end of this extension."

As the rebel forces are closing in on the pro-Gaddafi town of Bani Walid, southwest of the capital Tripoli, Abderrazak Naduri, an NTC forces commander, said they have asked Gaddafi loyalists there to surrender no later than 0800 GMT Sunday, according to al-Jazeera TV.

Mahmoud Abdelaziz, an NTC spokesman close to Chichan where the rebels are regrouping, said Bani Walid would fall "within hours" into the rebels' hands, the official Tunisian press agency TAP reported.

However, Gaddafi's spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said Bani Walid would not surrender to enemies, adding tribal leaders there were still loyal to Gaddafi.

He said Bani Walid hosts one of Libya's largest pro-Gaddafi tribes and they refuse to negotiate with the NTC, adding a locally dominant Warfalla tribe of 1 million population has told him it decided to keep their allegiance to Gaddafi.

The spokesman also said Warfalla, which is reported to have lost 1,000 men in combat, would keep on fighting until NATO stops its aggression.

Ibrahim said he did not know where Gaddafi is, but he knew for sure that the leader is in a safe place in Libya with enough protection.

He said Abdel Hakim Belhadj, an Islamist appointed by the NTC to command forces in Tripoli, was an al-Qaeda agent.

Belhadj told the French daily Le Monde that his group has no intention to seize power and would let the Libyan people decide their future by themselves.

"The Islamic combat group was never a part of al-Qaeda, neither from an ideological point of view, nor from an operational point of view," Belhadj said.

Belhadj also said he was arrested in Malaysia back in 2004, and was later transferred to Bangkok where he said he was interrogated and tortured for several days by CIA operatives who suspected him member of al-Qaeda.

While announcing the formation of a supreme security council aimed at maintaining security in Tripoli, the NTC is also turning to overseas assistance to rebuild the war-torn country.

The second "Friends of Libya" conference will be held in New York on Sept. 20 to speed up reconstruction in the North African country, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.

At the first conference held in Paris Thursday, over 15 billion U.S. dollars of Gaddafi's frozen foreign assets were handed over to the NTC.

Meanwhile, NTC official Walid Burshane, a member of a delegation led by NTC chief Jalil to Tunisia, said Tunisian skills will be needed in the reconstruction of Libya, according to TAP.

The Libyan official also suggested setting up a strategy aiming to build a "rich and diversified partnership between the two countries."

During his visit, Jalil met interim Tunisian President Fouad Mebazaa and interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi on bilateral cooperation.

Also on Saturday, Ian Martin, a special envoy for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, arrived in Tripoli to discuss how it could work with the NTC in restoring order and bringing democracy to the country.

"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," Martin said.

Abdullah Shammiya, Libya's interim economic minister, told reporters that foreign investors are welcome to return to Libya.

"We ask foreign investors to resume their operations...Their investments are still here and we respect previous contracts," he added.

He called on Tripoli citizens to run shops and factories and play a positive role in the country's political and economic transition.

Interim oil minister Ali Tarhuni said Libya's oil production will resume in two oilfields before mid-September.

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