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Wednesday, 16 March 2011 10:14

Libya: Why Should Gaddafi Leave Power?

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

MOSCOW, March 15, 2011 (Buziness Africa) Torn between the reactions of global leaders and deteriorating internal political situation combined with deep dissatisfaction of thousands of Libyans, Muammar Gaddafi should step down, experts and leading global politicians say.

GadafiFurFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Davis Cameron have called on the European Union (EU) to recognize the opposition Libyan National Council and urged Gaddafi to step down.

 

"We need to send a clear political signal that we consider the Council as a viable political counter-party and an important voice for the Libyan people at this time," the two leaders said in a joint declaration addressed to European Union Council President Herman von Rompuy.

 

"It is clear to us the (Libyan) regime has lost any legitimacy that it could have. To end the suffering of the Libyan people, Muammar Gaddafi and his clique must leave," said the statement issued on the even of an emergency EU summit devoted to Libya.

 

However, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said most EU member-countries do not back the initiative of France which recognized the Libyan National Council. He told BBC many EU countries recognize states rather than interim governments or groups of insurgents and added that the EU summit will consider a common attitude to the Libyan crisis rather than recognition of governments.

 

The EU countries have agreed on additional financial sanctions against Libya. The new sanctions envisage freezing the funds of the Libyan Investment Fund and the country's Central Bank, expected to be approved by the governments of 27 countries of the EU. 

 

EU said that Libya has a $70 billion sovereign wealth fund with major European investments. In late February, the EU banned 26 high ranking Libyan officials, including Libyan leader Gaddafi, from entering the EU. The European assets of Gaddafi and his family in Europe have been frozen. The EU also approved a ban on weapons supplies to Libya.

 

Libya has already suspended diplomatic relations with France according to Tripoli. This was in response to a statement by President Sarkozy that the EU no longer considered Gaddafi as the political leader of Libya. According to Paris, the only legitimate authority in Libya is the National Transition Council, which opposes Gaddafi. The Libyan National Transition Council was created by insurgents amid the unrest to govern the country's eastern territories, where many major cities and towns have been turned into opposition strongholds.

 

More countries moved to freeze Gaddafi's assets. Japan has taken measures against Gaddafi and six of his entourage and have frozen all of their accounts in the country. Tokyo followed the UN Security Council resolutions, adopted on the February 27th.

 

The Obama administration froze $30 billion assets of the Libyan government. Libya ranks among the world's most corrupt countries and has enormous assets to plunder. Confidential State Department cables suggest that U.S. banks manage hundreds of millions in Libyan assets and the government has built a multibillion-dollar wealth fund from oil sales.

 

In Geneva, U.S. diplomats joined a unanimous condemnation of Libya at the U.N. Human Rights Council, which launched an investigation into possible crimes against humanity by Gaddafi's regime and recommended Libya's suspension from the body.

 

Canada imposed sanctions against Libya, including arms embargo, asset freeze. Next, the German Economic Ministry also said it was freezing the accounts of the Libyan Central Bank and 13 other state-run agencies.

 

South African President Jacob Zuma has ordered the national treasury to freeze assets linked to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his associates, which is money invested through the $5 billion Libya Arab Africa Investment Co (Laaico), through the Libya Oil Holdings, the Libya African Investment Portfolio and the Libyan Foreign Investment Company (Lafico).

 

StopLibyaIn South Africa, Laaico owns Ensemble Hotel Holdings, including the luxury Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg. Libya also holds billions of dollars in assets in Africa through subsidiaries of its $70 billion sovereign wealth fund.

 

Arising from a crisis meeting by the 15 members of the body, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to refer the brutal repression of the popular Libyan uprising to the International Criminal Court ICC) in the Hague.

 

The range of sanctions also included a freeze on the assets of Gaddafi and his immediate family and a global travel ban on the embattled ruler and his close associates.British Prime Minister David Cameron insists that Gaddafi "must go now."!

 

The management of the world renowned London School of Economics (LSE), also said that the British university which accepted a £1.5 million donation from Gaddafi's son, "is considering to strip him (Saif Gaddafi) of his doctorate degree (PhD) as criticism of its links with the regime mounted." Further, Saif Gaddafi's £11 million home in the Hampstead Garden suburb came under question as anti-Gaddafi's Libyans in London moved to sieze the property, according media reports.

 

On March 10, France officially recognized the Libyan rebel leadership. Other EU countries - the United Kingdom and Germany - have urged all EU members to shun Gaddafi's regime.

 

In his address carried by Libyan state media, Gaddafi warned that the country would drop its obligations to the EU and pull out of international agreements unless the EU recognized Tripoli's efforts to tackle terrorism and illegal migration in North Africa. The 192 UN member nations suspended Libya from UN Human Rights Council early March.

 

In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in an official statement that foreign military intervention in Libya was inadmissible in any form, and welcomed the African Union (AU) resolution, which supports Libya's sovereignty and territorial integrity and condemns any foreign military intervention. The African Union said it was viewing with "deep concern" the prevailing situation in Libya, which it warned poses a serious threat to peace and security in the country and in the region as a whole.

 

At a meeting held at the level of heads of state and government on March 10, the AU's Peace and Security Council expressed disquiet over the dangers to which Libyans and migrant workers have been exposed, and made known its concern over the resulting humanitarian situation.

 

While the AU stopped short of calling on the regime in Tripoli to step down, it criticized Gaddafi's regime over its handling of the unrest, condemning the indiscriminate use of force and heavy weaponry being used to quell the uprising. It expressed remorse for the resultant loss of life and the transformation of pacific demonstrations into an armed rebellion.

 

The continental organization said it was expressing solidarity with the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, political reforms, justice, peace and security, underpinned by social and economic prosperity.

 

Last month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree which in fact imposes sanctions on the current Libyan regime.

 

The decree on measures to implement the UN Security Council Resolution 1970 dated February 26, 2011 in particular "bans the export from Russia to Libya, as well as the selling, delivery and transfer to Libya outside the Russian territory by vessels and aircraft flying the Russian flag, of all types of arms and related materiel, including weapons and munitions, combat vehicles and military equipment, as well as spare parts for aforementioned products."

 

The ban took effect from February 26, 2011 and will be effective until special order. According recent reports, Russia has $2 billion worth of arms contracts with Libya, and had intended to sign new contracts worth another $1.8 billion. By approving the sanctions, it means that Moscow forfeited a huge amount about $4 billion.

 

In the latest development, Gaddafi has suggested that Russian, Chinese and Indian companies should invest in the Libyan oil and gas sector. According to Libyan media sources, he said as much during a meeting with the ambassadors of Russia, China and India to Tripoli. Libya's oil exports have been heavily disrupted by fighting, lack of staff, international sanctions and refusal of international banks to fund deals in the wake of a bloody uprising.

 

Crude fell after Gaddafi's forces regained control of some territory over the weekend. Some industry players and analysts estimate it may take a year for operations in the OPEC member, which before the unrest produced 1.6 million barrels per day, to return to normal.

 

LibyaProtestHowever, on March 14, Medvedev signed a decree banning Gaddafi, his relatives and members of his inner circle from entering Russia, Buziness Africa learned from Kremlin sources. The ban covers a total of 15 people, including Gaddafi's children and high-ranking officials, involved in acts of violence against the regime’s opponents.

 

These are specifically defence and police chiefs, as well as the chiefs of special services and Gaddafi's bodyguard service. The decree was issued in pursuance of the UN resolution on sanctions against the Gaddafi regime that Russia voted for. Russia and China, which are both veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, have so far opposed a proposal to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

 

External pressure is still mounting on Gaddafi to step aside to save Libya. The Ministers of the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) called Gaddafi's regime illegitimate.

 

"The Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf considers the current Libyan regime illegal and urges to set up relations with the (opposition) National Council," GCC's ministers said in a statement. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

 

The Arab League voted on March 12 to ask the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Libyan leader, Gaddafi from carrying out airstrikes against rebels. The vote, at a special meeting in Cairo, was backed by all member states.

 

Libyan Foreign Ministry said in a statement on March 13 that Arab League's decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya will have negative consequences for Arab nations. "This decision (to impose the no-fly zone over Libya) was based on the fiction and distortion of facts," Jamahiriya News Agency (JANA) quoted the country's Foreign Ministry as saying.

 

Libya said the Arab countries should have established a special commission to estimate the situation in the north African state and make the decisions according to the information from the scene of the events. Gaddafi has described the no-fly zone proposal as a "colonialist plot" by the West to steal Libyan oil.

 

The unrest in Libya began on February 15, following the ouster of authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Libyans are demanding an end Gaddafi's 42-year rule. Up to 6,000 people had been killed in the anti-government clashes, according to the international human rights organizations.

 

The U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States had allocated additional $15 million for emergency operations in the neighboring regions, sheltering thousands of refugees, who had fled Libya. But, his humanitarian assistance goes with a message.

 

"I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Colonel Qaddafi. It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward and they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place there," Obama said after the meeting with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in early March. (END/2011)

 

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