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Cash-strapped Libya rebels call for loans

2011-06-30 11:54

Benghazi - Libya's cash-strapped rebels, facing a long and uncertain fight to recover assets frozen abroad, called on foreign donors on Wednesday to back new loans using the blocked cash as collateral.

With no money to pay for salaries or imports, Mazen Ramadan, an economic advisor to the National Transitional Council (NTC), said a solution must be found to tap cash abroad, including the more than $30bn frozen in the United States alone.

"This whole asset unfreezing thing is going to take a while," he told AFP from his office in Benghazi. "We are working with a lot of people but it seems like a time consuming process, and we need the money."

"We proposed a mechanism to perhaps get loans on the frozen assets and then use this mechanism to ensure transparency."

He did not say whether Western nations, which face major legal obstacles to releasing the frozen assets, had embraced the idea, but the European Union is said to be considering it.

Asked about the NTC's current bank balance Ramadan said bluntly: "We don't have any money."

He said salaries for past month had not yet been paid and that power shortages in the east of the country were being caused by the lack of funds.

"We think of this war here as having multiple front lines. We are on the financial front line and we are losing badly and it seems like our friends have not noticed."

Serious problem

Although Libya's rebels got $100m earlier this month, Ramadan said "it is a small amount relative to what we owe, fuel shipments are more than that".

"We definitely have a serious problem," he added.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague earlier on Wednesday confirmed the rebels had received $100m for fuel and salaries.

The rebels, fighting to overthrow Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, have complained that they have received a fraction of the roughly $1bn promised by international donors.

At a meeting earlier this month in Abu Dhabi of the contact group on Libya, an alliance of countries and international organisations, donors including Italy and France vowed to help them with cash and supplies.

The rebels - unable to capitalise on the country's vast oil wealth because of damaged infrastructure -- depend on foreign largesse to pay for basic services and their largely volunteer-led rebellion.

The uprising against Gaddafi began in mid-February and international forces, including Britain, launched air strikes on Libya in March under a UN resolution aimed at protecting civilians from attacks by the veteran leader's forces.

Comments
  • melchiedek - 2011-06-30 14:10

    this rebel in lybia are making me sick because they the ones killing civilians

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