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New Libya Leadership Pledges to Respect Human Rights

Chairman of Libya's National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil speaking in Tripoli, Sep 12, 2011
Chairman of Libya's National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil speaking in Tripoli, Sep 12, 2011

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Scott Bobb

In Libya, forces opposed to former leader Moammar Gadhafi, backed by NATO air strikes, continued their attacks Tuesday on the Gadhafi strongholds of Sirte and Bani Walid. The fighting came as the leader of the National Transitional Council pledged to build a moderate Islamic state and urged his countrymen to seek reconciliation.

Libya's National Transitional Council on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to human rights and pledged to investigate abuses by its fighters against supporters of ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi.

In a statement issued in Tripoli, the council said it is committed to upholding the rule of law and is trying to bring under its authority the varied armed groups that are fighting Mr. Gadhafi.

The statement was in response to a report issued Monday by the human rights group, Amnesty International.

The report said pro-Gadhafi forces had committed widespread war crimes during the six months of fighting. But it also said it had uncovered evidence of abuses by anti-Gadhafi forces, including mass killings of prisoners, torture, disappearances and arbitrary arrests.

Amnesty added that many of these attacks had been carried out against foreigners from sub-Saharan African countries whom it said made up more than one-third of those held in detention centers in Tripoli and nearby Zawiya. It said many were accused of being mercenaries but it suspected that most were migrant workers.

The head of Libya's National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, called on Libyans to build a state that respected the rule of law.

Jalil says the nation must work for the abolishment of hatred and of jealousy and he urged Libyans to avoid revenge and oppression.  Jalil was speaking to the nation on Monday night for the first time since arriving in Tripoli Saturday. It was his first visit since anti-Gadhafi forces took control of the capital nearly three weeks ago.

He said Libya is a Muslim nation that follows a moderate Islam and he intends to maintain this.

Libya's new leaders came to power pledging to form a modern, democratic state. But they reportedly have come under pressure from Islamist militants as well as from regional political leaders and commanders of the various fighting forces that helped remove Gadhafi from power.

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