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UN, int'l community poised to help post-conflict Libya: UN chief


11:15, August 27, 2011

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon(C) speaks to media during a press conference accompanied by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Libya Abdel-Elah Al-Khatib(L) and UN Secretary-General Special Advisor for Post-Conflict Planning Ian Martin(R) at the headquarters in New York, the United States, Aug. 26, 2011. After a meeting with heads of regional organizations on Friday afternoon, Ban told reporters that the international community, including the UN, stands prepared to provide support to Libya in the aftermath of its violent, months-long conflict. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- After a meeting with heads of regional organizations on Friday afternoon, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that the international community, including the UN, stands prepared to provide support to Libya in the aftermath of its violent, months-long conflict.

"In our meeting this afternoon, all those present agreed: at this moment of great transition, the international community must come together with an effective, well-coordinated program of action," said Ban.

Ban briefed reporters here after meeting via video conference with leaders from the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the African Union (AU), and the European Union (EU). The officials discussed the future of Libya when the conflict between rebels and the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi ends. The fight currently appears to be winding down, as rebels under the National Transitional Council (NTC) have overrun Tripoli, and Gaddafi is nowhere to be found.

All present at the meeting, Ban said, agreed that a smooth transition to a new government is important.

"That transition must be grounded in inclusiveness, reconciliation and national unity -- under a new government that can effectively deliver on the Libyan people's aspirations for democracy, freedom, and growing social and economic prosperity," he said.

The conflict in Libya started in February, when protestors, caught in the tide of revolution across the Arab world, began demonstrating against the Gaddafi regime. Soon a full-fledged war had broken out between the regime and the rebels. The UN Security Council stepped in, passing resolutions that among other actions, froze Gaddafi's assets, created an arms embargo on the country, and sanctioned a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent the government from opening fire on protestors.

Ban stated that regional leaders at his Friday meeting expressed a desire to have the UN as a coordinator of international response to the rapidly evolving situation in Libya.

"All agreed that the United Nations is expected to play an essential coordinating role," he said. "The UN needs to work closely with international partners and regional organizations. We need to work with unity of purpose and speak in one voice."

The challenges ahead are many, according to the secretary- general.

Ian Martin, Ban's advisor for post-conflict planning in Libya as well as Abdel-Elah Al Khatib, his special envoy to the country, have been working with regional organizations and NTC officials to make preparations for what might happen when the conflict in Libya ends. Ban said he has spoken with NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

In the short term, some fighting still continues in the North African country, causing humanitarian and security problems, Ban said. The NTC has asked for urgent humanitarian assistance in areas like water, sanitation, education, and medical aid.

"There are widespread shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies," said Ban. "Reports on the ground suggest that the water supply to the capital and surrounding region may be in danger -- putting several million people, or more, at risk."

On the security front, Ban said participants in the Friday meeting agreed that the UN should be prepared to help build police capacity in Libya.

The NTC has also requested assistance with other matters, according to Ban.

"Somewhat longer term, they have placed special emphasis on early support for elections, transitional justice and policing, as well as assistance in social-economic recovery, rule of law and institution-building," he noted.

Although there are no UN peacekeepers, police, or military observers in Libya, Ban said he plans to discuss the matter with Jalil and others during an international meeting on Libya that is to be held in Paris on Sept. 1. After these discussions, Ban will take input to the Security Council, which holds the power to create missions and call for their deployment.

Additionally, Ban welcomed the unfreezing of Gaddafi's assets by the Security Council on Thursday. The newly available funds will be used to help Libya's post-conflict recovery.

"Yesterday's action by the Council to release $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan assets was a welcome step -- but all agreed, this afternoon, that the international community must do all it can to provide additional financial resources," he added.

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