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Libyan AU Envoy Hails Demise of Gadhafi Regime

Libyan Ambassador to the African Union, Ali Abdallah Awidan, displays his Transitional National Council pin on his suit as he arrives for a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa, August 22, 2011
Libyan Ambassador to the African Union, Ali Abdallah Awidan, displays his Transitional National Council pin on his suit as he arrives for a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa, August 22, 2011

Libya’s ambassador to the African Union has declared an end to the Gadhafi government, and hailed the beginning of a new era in his country.  The envoy predicted that Mr. Gadhafi’s hours as Libya's leader are numbered.

Tripoli’s ambassador, Ali Abdalla Awidan, arrived at AU headquarters Monday wearing a broad smile and a pin bearing the insignia of the rebel Transitional National Council.  Speaking to reporters before an urgent meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council, he described the impending demise of Mr. Gadhafi's rule as a time for national celebration.

"We are celebrating today to raise our new flag, which is not a rebel flag but it’s a Libyan flag, this is the old Libyan flag, but Gadhafi has changed it to that green flag. But this flag has been flying on the sky of Libya until 1952, until 1969, even after, when Gadhafi came and he changed it.  So today we have raised it," he said.

The envoy has had little to say to reporters in the months since the rebellion broke out in Libya.  But with Mr. Gadhafi’s fall now a virtual certainty, he was in a giddy mood.  He said, “The change has happened, and we represent the change." "We are very happy today that we are in a new phase, a new image you will see us.  Maybe there is something in my face if you can recognize it, not my old face which you used to see before," he said.

Ambassador Awidan predicted Gadhafi would soon be captured, but rejected a reporter’s suggestion that the Libyan leader might be executed. "Mr. Gadhafi will be in Libya, they will find him.  He is somewhere now.  They are looking for him, and any moment now they have declared any time they are gong to, to find him and then they will decide what they will do for him," he said.

The Libyan envoy promised that a new government in Tripoli would try to use its vast oil wealth to help African countries that have supported the revolution. "Africa is our continent, Africa has been supporting us and we thank them, but we have to support them also.  Now it’s time for us to fully support Africa seriously with all the money that we have.  We have a lot of money. I think you heard the billions, they’re taking hundreds of billions in the hands of the sons of Gadhafi," he said.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, was also at AU headquarters Monday in his capacity as chairman of the international contact group on Libya.  He met with AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping and was also conferring with other major players on how to help Libya’s post-Gadhafi transition.

"Today is a historic day in Libya.  There is the beginning of a new era in Libya for the future democratic united Libya.  That was our objective from the very beginning.  What we always defined it as Turkey is a new Libya based on the aspirations of the people of Libya without being divided, without being a chaotic situation," he said.

The Turkish foreign minister told reporters he plans to travel Tuesday to Benghazi for a meeting with the TNC leadership

The Peace and Security Council met Monday to review developments in Tripoli.  A meeting of the AU Contact Group on Libya is tentatively set for Thursday, ahead of a full heads-of-state-level meeting of the Peace and Security Council set for Friday.

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