Unfreeze Libyan assets, US urges

2011-08-25 09:45
New York - The United States asked the UN Security Council to unfreeze $1.5bn in Libyan assets for the cash-strapped rebels in a move to bypass opposition from South Africa, which has close ties to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The Obama administration has been trying for more than two weeks to get the Security Council committee that monitors sanctions against Libya to unfreeze the assets, but diplomats said South Africa objected. In the committee, agreement of all 15 council nations is required.

To overcome the opposition, the United States decided to introduce a resolution before the full Council, which does not need a unanimous vote.

Mark Kornblau, spokesperson for the US Mission, told reporters after closed consultations that the United States will call for a vote at 15:00 on Thursday unless South Africa changes its mind and joins consensus in the sanctions committee before then.

"The urgent imperative here is to get these assets unfrozen in a way that they can get on the ground to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the Libyan people," Kornblau said.

"We expect it to have the necessary support to pass," a US diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly. "It's unfortunate it had to come to this point, but South Africa is being difficult."

South Africa's UN Ambassador Baso Sangqu told reporters his government is very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Libya but wants to wait for the outcome of an African Union meeting on Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. That meeting was expected to discuss recognition of the rebels' National Transitional Council - now poised to take power in Libya.

He noted that neither his country - nor the African Union or United Nations - has recognised the Libyan opposition and expressed concern that the US-backed resolution would imply recognition of the National Transitional Council.

Second resolution

The UN Security Council in February and March ordered all countries to freeze billions of dollars in assets of Gaddafi, key relatives, and members of his regime as well as the Libyan central bank, Libyan investment organisations and the National Oil Corporation. The aim was to punish the regime and cripple its response to protesters demanding change.

Britain, the US and the European Union have called for the quick release of assets to help the National Transitional Council to rebuild the Libyan economy, restore essential services, reform the police and the army, and pay government salaries.

While the resolution introduced on Wednesday focused on assets frozen in US, banks, council diplomats said a second resolution that will cover the UN's mandate in a post-Gaddafi Libya will include proposals to unfreeze assets in other countries.

The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, would unfreeze up to $1.5bn. It would provide up to $500m to international humanitarian organisations "to respond to initial and currently anticipated humanitarian needs," up to $500m "to third-party vendors supplying fuel and other urgently needed humanitarian goods", and up to $500m to an internationally monitored fund set up in May by 22 nations and organisations to help the rebels.

It calls for the fund to earmark up to $400m "for expenses related to the provision of social services, including education and health", and up to $100m "for food subsidies, electricity, and other humanitarian purchases for the Libyan people."

Sangqu said South Africa agreed to release $500m for the international humanitarian organisations, but the US said it wanted the entire $1.5bn package.

The $1.5bn represents about half of the Gaddafi regime's liquid assets that have been frozen in the United States. Much of the more than $30bn in frozen assets in the US is in real estate and other property holdings.

Read more on:    un  |  us  |  sa  |  libya  |  uprsings  |  libya protests  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Quiz: Test your Rio Olympics memory!

Think you know what went on at the Rio Olympics? Prove it by tackling Sport24's ridiculously impossible yet highly addictive post-Games quiz!


Rio Olympics

GALLERY: SA's Rio Olympic medallists
As it happened: Rio Olympics - Day 17
Selecting 6 numbers turned Britain into Olympic superpower
Caster cranks up the heat in Rio semi

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.