Libya rebel leaders say they're in charge. Not so fast, say some in Tripoli.
Western rebels say they won't accept a government run by the National Transitional Council's chairman, who is from the east and has yet to be seen in Tripoli since rebels seized the capital.
(Page 2 of 3)
NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in a recent press conference that the current council, which includes 42 members, would grow to 80 members once all areas of Libya come under opposition control. Qaddafi forces still control some areas of Libya, including the cities of of Sirte and Sabha.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
According to Mr. Omeish, “the people of Tripoli will not accept a government formed by Jibril,” who is from the east.
NTC waiting to name a temporary government
NTC officials in Benghazi, however, don’t appear to feel pressure to consolidate leadership in Tripoli to avoid a rift. Mr. Abdel Jalil has not announced plans to move from Benghazi to Tripoli, and the NTC will not name a temporary government until "total liberation," which will come with Qaddafi's capture, says NTC deputy chair Abdel Hafidh Ghoga.
“We don't believe that the crowning of this revolution will be complete until such time as Qaddafi and his inner circle and his sons are captured. As long as he is at large, he will always be a threat to Libya, and to the international community,” says Mr. Ghoga.
Waiting to install a credible government that can steer the transition period risks further instability, says a Western diplomat who asked not to be named. “That's a little bit risky because if it takes a long time [to find Qaddafi] you have this weak institution leading the state,” he says. “I think it's really important for them to take over the government institutions there quickly. Otherwise there will be a vacuum.”
Those living in difficult humanitarian circumstances in Tripoli after fighting to rid the city of Qaddafi’s forces say they want leadership on the ground in the capital, not talking with foreign leaders abroad or in Benghazi.
While at least eight members of the NTC are now in Tripoli, along with most of the members of its executive council, the top two NTC leaders – Abdel Jalil and Mahmoud Jibril, who is sometimes called the prime minister, have yet to be seen in the capital.
They attended a meeting in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday and have been invited to Paris this week. They are working urgently to get foreign banks to release billions in Libyan assets that were frozen in a global bid to pressure Qaddafi.
“People want to see Jalil and Jibril in the streets of Tripoli,” says Omeish. “If you want to be a national leader, you should be in the capital in this time of crisis. This is not the time to be working behind the scenes.”
Their absence may have left a vacuum that has already been filled. “It has already been decided that the local Tripoli council will run things in Tripoli,” says Mr. Omeish. The NTC, he adds, “is mostly symbolic now.”