Libyan transitional government gets UN seat

The UN General Assembly on Friday gave Libya`s UN seat to the National Transitional Council which toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

United Nations: The UN General Assembly on Friday gave Libya`s UN seat to the National Transitional Council which toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

A group of left-wing Latin American countries failed in a bid to oppose recognition of the transitional council. The 193-member assembly voted 114 to 17, with 15 abstentions, to let the former rebel leadership take the UN seat.

The move allows interim government leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, to attend next week`s UN gathering of world leaders in New York. Jalil is to meet US President Barack Obama and other key figures on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

The UN Security Council was to vote later Friday on a resolution that would ease economic and arms sanctions against Libya and set up a political mission in Libya to help the government organise elections and write a new constitution.

About 90 countries now recognise the transitional council, whose leaders moved to Tripoli this week.

Libya has had no official UN representative since March, when Gaddafi withdrew the credentials of the ambassador, Abdulrahman Shalgham, who went over to the rebels.

Shalgham, a former foreign minister under Gaddafi who gave a tearful speech to the Security Council in March supporting international action against the former strongman, is expected to be the transitional council`s envoy to the UN.

Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and other left-leaning governments in the ALBA regional group sought a vote to stop the transitional council getting the UN seat.

Venezuela`s ambassador, Jorge Valero, called Libya`s rebel leadership "a group under the guidance of the United States and NATO which has no legal or moral authority."

Cuba`s ambassador Pedro Nunez Mosquera said NATO had staged "a military operation to change the regime to promote their political and economic interests." He said "thousands" of civilians have been killed in NATO airstrikes since March.

The Southern African Development Community had called for a decision to be deferred to get more information on events in Libya. The African Union has not yet recognised the transitional government. It is to meet again on Monday in New York in a new bid to take a stance.

Britain has drawn up the UN Security Council resolution to be voted on Friday. Diplomats from the 15-nation council expressed confidence that it would be passed.

The resolution, obtained by a news agency, welcomes the "improved situation" in Libya and highlights the council`s determination to make sure that tens of billions of dollars of assets frozen by the Security Council in February and March "shall as soon as possible be made available to and for the benefit of the people of Libya."

The resolution would lift asset freezes and other measures against Libyan National Oil Corporation and Zueitina Oil Company, and ease sanctions against the central bank, Libyan Arab Foreign Bank, Libyan Investment Authority and Libyan African Africa Investment Portfolio.

Measures against Gaddafi, his family and associates are maintained. The former Libyan leader, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, is now on the run.

The Security Council was expected to express concern at the "proliferation of arms in Libya and its potential impact on regional peace and security."

But the resolution would allow arms supplies and technical assistance to Libya`s transitional government for the security of the authorities and for the protection of UN personnel, media and aid workers in the country.

The UN Support Mission in Libya, UNSMIL, would be set up for an initial three months to help in what diplomats insist is essentially a political operation.

It would give advice on restoring security but would concentrate on efforts to "undertake inclusive political dialogue, promote national reconciliation and embark upon the constitution-making and electoral process."

Bureau Report