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Planning for Libya's transition shifts into high gear

Libya's rebel council is meeting with international officials in Qatar today to arrange $2.5 billion in funding for an interim government.

By Staff writer / August 24, 2011

Mahmoud Jibril, the No. 2 leader in the National Transitional Council of Libya, speaks during a press conference in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday, Aug. 23, hours after rebel forces overran Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's fortified Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, following heavy fighting.

Osama Faisal/AP

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Representatives of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) are sitting down with officials from around the world in Doha, Qatar, today in a meeting expected to arrange $2.5 billion in emergency financing for an interim Libyan government and to shape the international role in Libya moving forward.

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Rebellion against Muammar Qaddafi's 42-year rule is not yet complete. But the collapse of Qaddafi's defenses in Tripoli now has transition plans shifting into high gear.

Mahmoud Jibril, who is formally the NTC's No. 2 leader behind Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said in a press conference last night that the rebel government-in-waiting will soon move to Tripoli. It is eager for emergency funding before the Eid al-Fitr celebration that marks the end of Ramadan in a few days, which is the biggest Muslim holiday of the year.

Many government salaries have gone unpaid and Jibril said the NTC wants foreign financing to reassure police and other officials that Libya's new order will look after them, and the country.

"We have to be transparent in front of the whole world," he told a Doha press conference last night. "Now we have to concentrate on building and healing our wounds."

Mr. Abdel Jalil was quoted in Italy's Repubblica newspaper this morning saying that he expects presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya by next April. "We want a democratic government and a just constitution," he said.

Jibril was less specific, saying the next political step would be to hold a national congress to set a constitutional drafting process in motion. He said a referendum would be held on a new constitution, and that elections would soon follow, but he didn't give a time frame.

Jibril is expected to be in Paris today to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, one of the earliest and most ardent backers of NATO intervention in Libya. Mr. Sarkozy is also hoping to convene a large international meeting in Paris sometime in the next two weeks to coordinate international aid.

In theory, the actual cost to international powers should be low. Jibril said yesterday that more than $150 billion in Libyan assets are abroad, currently frozen by the sanctions placed on Qaddafi in response to his crackdown on democracy protesters that sparked Libya's civil war. The country also has Africa's highest oil reserves, though national production has been reduced to a trickle by the war and it will probably be a year, at least, before production nears pre-war levels.

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