UN ends NATO military mandate in Libya


The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously voted to end the mandate for international military action in Libya, ending another chapter in the war against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. NATO, which carried out the air strikes that played a key role in the downfall of Gaddafi, says it is studying new ways to help the National Transitional Council which had asked for an extension to the mandate. A Security Council resolution ordered the end of the authorization for a no-fly zone and action to protect civilians from 11.59pm Libyan time (2159 GMT) on October 31. Following the vote, NATO’s decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, is to meet on Friday in Brussels to formally declare an end to its seven-month-old air war.
Security Council Resolution 2016 also eased an international arms embargo so that the NTC can acquire weapons and equipment for its national security. It ended an assets freeze on the Libyan National Oil Corporation and virtually all restrictions on the central bank and other key institutions. It completely ended the ban on international flights by Libyan registered planes. The NTC declared the formal “liberation” of Libya on October 23, three days after the killing of Gaddafi. But interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil on Wednesday urged NATO to extend its campaign until the end of the year because of the continuing threat from Gaddafi loyalists.
Russia, China, South Africa, Brazil and India accused NATO of going beyond the mandate with the air strikes against Gaddafi targets. The NATO allies insist they stayed within the “all necessary means” provision laid down to protect civilians. Without mentioning the death of Gaddafi, the 15-member Security Council expressed “grave concern” however over “reprisals, arbitrary detentions, wrongful imprisonment and extra-judicial executions in Libya.” It called for “respect for human rights and the rule of law” and for Libyan authorities “to refrain from reprisals.”
As well as the national oil company, the Security Council lifted sanctions on Zuetina Oil Company.
The resolution lifted virtually all restrictions on the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank, the Libyan Investment Authority, and the Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio.
The remaining sanctions are the arms embargo and individual measures against surviving members of the Gaddafi family and associates of the late strongman.
NATO allies are in discussions amongst themselves and with the NTC about assisting the transitional council, diplomats said.
NATO is still conducting some air patrols over and around Libya, alliance officials said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation and we are ready to act if necessary,” a NATO official said.
Gaddafi’s son wants to surrender to ICC: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who once vowed to die fighting on Libyan soil, now wants to face international justice instead and avoid any chance of meeting the same grisly end as his father, Libyan officials said.
An NTC official said that Saif al-Islam, the only one of Muammar Gaddafi’s eight children still on the run, had proposed surrendering to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has indicted him for war crimes. Surrender by 39-year-old Saif al-Islam would close another chapter in the four-decade history of Gaddafi family rule. He was widely seen as Muammar Gaddafi’s favoured son and his heir apparent.