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Libya's Provisional Leaders Vow No Revenge

An anti-Gadhafi fighter stands guard during a demonstration at Martyrs square in Tripoli, Libya, September 2, 2011.
An anti-Gadhafi fighter stands guard during a demonstration at Martyrs square in Tripoli, Libya, September 2, 2011.
Elizabeth Arrott

Leaders of Libya's National Transitional Council are urging civilians in Gadhafi-held areas to come over to their side, vowing no revenge will be taken.   

With NTC troops poised outside the pro-Gadhafi towns of Sirte and Bani Walid, NTC deputy chairman Ali Tarhouni promised residents their security would be assured.  

Speaking in Tripoli Saturday, Tarhouni said forces loyal to the provisional government have not perpetrated any acts of vengeance and have treated their rivals with civility.  He added that even those who had "blood on their hands" would be treated according to legal norms.  Tarhouni stressed that justice would be made more regular in coming days, announcing a new council to deal with security in Tripoli and the fate of prisoners.   

His promise follows several acts of apparent revenge against Gadhafi loyalists.   The execution-style slaying of those troops in the early days of the rebels' capture of the capital has been overshadowed by atrocities alleged to have been committed by Gadhafi forces.   But the future of prisoners from sub-Saharan Africa suspected of being mercenaries remained unclear.  

Tarhouni said officials are in the process of securing them in a safe place, but had not decided whether they should be sent back to their home countries or tried in Libya.

As for the final push to take control of Gadhafi-held territories, Tarhouni said there had been no movement on either Sirte or Bani Walid for two days and he was optimistic that there could be a negotiated end to the stand-off.  He added he had reports that the people of Bani Walid "possibly" will join the NTC's side but gave no further details.  

The NTC has extended a deadline for all opponents to lay down arms until next Saturday.   There is widespread hope among NTC officials they can avoid laying siege to civilian areas.  

Turkey's ambassador to the new Libya echoed that sentiment Saturday calling on ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi to give up. " We should avoid further bloodshed.  There is enough blood unfortunately in LIbya.  Actually all along we thought Gadhafi and his family should transfer power to the Libyan people," he said.

Ali Kemal Aydin added that Mr. Gadhafi should surrender to the justice of the Libyan people.  Justice and reconciliation seem to be two constant themes on the streets of Tripoli.   

One elderly resident said he was determined not to repeat the injustices of the Gadhafi years.  "Just because he was bad, doesn't mean we have to be," he said.

It's a promise that the people of Sirte, Bani Walid and other areas beyond the NTC's control must hope the council and its supporters will keep.

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