Libya's National Transition Council and world leaders are set to meet in Paris Thursday to outline a roadmap to democracy, with all involved anxious to avoid the errors of Iraq. The talks will focus on political and economic reconstruction.
REUTERS - Leaders of the Libyan uprising that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi sit down with world powers on Thursday to map out the country’s rebuilding, 42 years to the day after the former strongman seized power in a coup.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose gamble to spearhead the West’s intervention in Libya paid off this week as Gaddafi was driven from power, are hosting delegations from 60 countries and world bodies.
Gaddafi's Remaining Allies
The tight 3-hour agenda focuses on political and economic reconstruction, with Western powers anxious to avoid mistakes made in Iraq but talks on the sidelines may expose early jostling for opportunities in oil and infrastructure.
Libya, which boasts large reserves of top-quality crude oil, has been left badly underdeveloped by Gaddafi, who as a young army captain ousted Libya’s King Idris on Sept. 1 1969.
With Gaddafi driven from power this week in a popular revolt, the “Friends of Libya” conference will give the ruling interim council its first platform to address the world.
National Transition Council Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil will open the afternoon talks with an outline of the NTC’s roadmap, which targets a new constitution, elections within 18 months and ways to avoid bloody reprisals. He will later address an evening news conference along with Sarkozy and Cameron.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be at the talks along with European and African leaders and the heads of NATO, the United Nations and the European Union. Russia and China, which opposed the NATO intervention, will also be represented.
Eyes on longer-term
Eager to meet immediate civilian needs, the NTC is expected to push for rapid acc
ess to billions of dollars in foreign-held Libyan assets frozen under U.N. sanctions on Gaddafi.
The United States and Britain have won U.N. permission to unfreeze $1.5 billion each of Libyan assets and France is trying to get a similar sum approved out of a total 7.6 billion euros of Libyan assets in France, according to a government source.
Other European countries may follow suit, and while Thursday’s talks are not supposed to be about funding pledges, some assistance or loans may be promised to aid the NTC, which is using money unfrozen earlier in France to buy wheat.
The European Union, which has already sent some 150 million euros in humanitarian aid to Libya, is preparing measures to help the NTC with justice, policing and security, education and financial management, EU sources say.
While officials are adamant Thursday is about securing political stability in Libya and doing things differently than in Iraq, French companies are planning a trade mission to get a head start on reconstruction contracts.
As well as big prospects for developing oil drilling, the end of the six-month conflict will open up big opportunities for infrastructure, construction, electric power, telecoms, water and tourism companies who are keen to challenge the privileged position enjoyed by Italian firms under Gaddafi’s long rule.
In pictures: daily life in Tripoli
A long queue at a butcher’s shop. Despite steep price rises, families still keen on a good meal when they break their Ramadan fast at dusk. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
This man, from the Mansura district of the capital, carries buckets full of water that he has filled from his neighbour’s well. The shortage of water is a growing problem in Tripoli. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
A fruit seller counts his takings. Prices have shot up in the last week. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
This water melon cost 1.5 dinars, about one euro. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
Three children celebrate the fall of Gaddafi. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
The rubbish is piling up, and in the 40 degree heat, it is far from pleasant. Residents are doing what they can to address the situation. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
Fearing looters, a man sits outside his home, nursing an assault rifle. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
Three men, guarding their properties, say they are pleased the “tyrant Gaddafi” is gone from the capital. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
Following Friday prayers, these young men gather in Green Square, now renamed “Martyrs Square”, to celebrate their victory. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
The crowd chants angry slogans against Colonel Gaddafi. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
Which Arab regime will fall next? The placard reads 1. Tunisia, 2. Egypt, 3. Libya… followed by Yemen and Syria. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
Heavily armed men and vehicle-mounted weapons are still a common sight. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
Father and son celebrate together. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
Women also went out into Martyrs Square to celebrate. (Photo: Tahar Hani/FRANCE 24)
The NTC has said those who took a lead role in backing their revolt will be rewarded. While Paris has already sent company representatives to assess the situation on the ground Britain is not planning any missions until the conflict is completely over.
“It seems that Britain is always slow out of the traps, although we are good at the over-arching politics,” said John Hamilton, a director of research and publishing company Cross-border Information, who noted Libya’s banking sector will also be ripe for development.
“If someone can say Tripoli is safe, people will be out there as soon as possible,” he said.
Date created : 2011-09-01