Unfrozen Libyan assets to ease suffering, says Pretoria

2011-08-26 07:14

South Africa agreed to the release of $1.5 billion (R10.85 billion) of seized Libyan assets to ease the country’s humanitarian crisis, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said today.

“We hope that the funds released by the Security Council will contribute [to that] ... and be used directly for the benefit of the people of Libya,” spokesperson Clayson Monyela said in a statement.

He said the release was agreed to on the basis that it was not a formal recognition of the National Transitional Council (NTC).

“South Africa has always supported the approach of the African Union to pursue an all-inclusive peaceful political solution to the Libyan crisis and rejects any narrative towards regime change.”

South Africa recently blocked the release of funds through the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee. It argued that releasing the assets would imply acceptance of a regime change.

“After intensive negotiations, the United States withdrew any reference to the NTC in their letter requesting the unfreezing of the assets, thus excluding any form of recognition of the NTC through this proposal.

“With these changes, after consultations within the AU and considering that the interests of the Libyan people are paramount, South Africa agreed to the release of these funds,” said Monyela.

The assets were frozen in US banks.

Yesterday, Agence France Presse reported that the assets would pay for UN programmes, energy bills, health, education and food.

Monyela said government would continue to support the people of Libya in meeting their aspirations for democracy, justice, peace and security.

“For sustainable peace to be achieved, it is critical that the Libyans themselves assume full ownership of their future.” 

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