Libya will work for peace, says Jalil
New York - The new Libya will join the international community as a nation committed to peace, security, and democracy, the head of the transitional government said on Monday, as world leaders pledged support for the nation emerging from over four decades of rule under Muammar Gaddafi.
National Transitional Council chairperson Mustafa Abdul-Jalil took the floor for the first time at the United Nations, speaking at a high-powered meeting attended by US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other world leaders to assess the path forward after Gaddafi’s ouster following an almost seven-month civil war.
Abdul-Jalil was at the world body as the new, albeit transitional, Libyan president - an appearance that marks what the international community hopes is the start of a new era in a nation best known for its support of terrorism and the eccentricities of its now ousted leader. The General Assembly voted Friday to transfer Libya's seat from Gaddafi to the former rebel movement.
"I want to assure everyone that Libya will be a vital state, a vibrant state that upholds the principles of peace and security in the region, a state that respects human rights, and establishes a nation in which Libyans can government themselves and seek official position through elections," Abdul-Jalil told several hundred ministers and diplomats.
Emerging later from the warm reception, he told reporters: "From the place where Muammar Gaddafi tore up the United Nations' Charter, we return today and say that Libya, as part of the international community, will work to achieve security and peace." He was referring to the ousted Libyan leader's rambling 96-minute speech to the UN General Assembly in 2009 where at one point he slightly ripped up the UN Charter, prompting a rebuke.
While upbeat about the country's future, Abdul-Jalil told the meeting that "the road before us is still long and there are many challenges at many levels ... either because of the presence of Gaddafi or because of challenges related to launching the development process to rebuild and reconstruct the state".
"Although we are a rich country, we require assistance," Abdul-Jalil said.
The meeting at the UN, where Abdul-Jalil sat at a podium flanked by the new Libyan flag along with that of the UN, comes at a pivotal time for the country.
Although the former rebels have seized control over much of the country, they are still battling Gaddafi loyalists in several cities, including Sirte, which sits 400km southeast of Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast.
Gaddafi remains at large and on Tuesday issued a statement, saying in an audio recording that his regime is still alive and that was occurring in the country now was a "charade."