Sun, Oct 23, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Libyan PM sees elections within eight months

QUESTIONS:Mahmoud Jibril was expected to step down yesterday, while the US and UN, among others, are calling for a probe into Muammar Qaddafi’s death

Reuters and AFP, DEAD SEA, JORDAN, and TRIPOLI

Libyans should be allowed to vote within eight months to elect a national council that would draft a new constitution and form an interim government, Libyan interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said yesterday as he prepared to step down.

After the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi this week, the priority was to remove weapons from Libyan streets, restore stability and order and begin a process of national reconciliation, Jibril said at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

“The first election should take place within a period of eight months, maximum, to constitute a national congress of Libya, some sort of parliament,” he said.

“This national congress would have two tasks — draft a constitution, on which we would have a referendum, and the second to form an interim government to last until the first presidential elections are held,” Jibril said.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) that led the fight against Qaddafi has said it plans to declare the full “liberation” of Libya today after the killing of Qaddafi on Thursday by fighters who overran his hometown Sirte.

Jibril, an expatriate academic who strikes a modern, Western-friendly image, said yesterday that he planned to step down that day, a move he had planned to make once the country was under full government control.

He said Qaddafi’s death left him feeling “relieved and reborn.”

Commenting on the disgust felt by many at the sight of Qaddafi’s blood-stained, bullet-holed body, he said: “People in the West don’t understand the agony and pain that the people went through during the past 42 years.”

Jibril said Qaddafi’s body, which lay unburied in a freezer in the city of Misrata yesterday, would be buried within 48 hours in accordance with Islamic practice.

Some observers suggested that the deposed dictator might have been summarily executed after his capture. Russia, the UN’s human rights chief, Amnesty International and Qaddafi’s widow all called for a probe.

The US said the NTC should provide a “transparent account” of Qaddafi’s death.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the “way his death happened poses an entire number of questions” and called for a probe.

“The images we saw on television show that he was taken prisoner while wounded, and then later, once already a prisoner, his life was taken away,” Lavrov said.

US Department of State spokesman Mark Toner said the NTC “has already been working to determine the precise cause and circumstances of Qaddafi’s death and we obviously urge them to do so in an open and transparent manner as we move forward.”

Toner repeated a US call to the NTC to treat prisoners humanely.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay also called for an investigation.

“On the issue of Qaddafi’s death yesterday [Thursday], the circumstances are still unclear,” her spokesman Rupert Colville said. “There should be some kind of investigation given what we saw.”

Claudio Cordone, senior director at Amnesty International, said if Qaddafi “was killed after his capture, it would constitute a war crime and those responsible should be brought to justice.”

He said the “NTC must apply the same standards to all, affording justice even to those who categorically denied it to others.”

And Qaddafi’s widow, Safia Farkash, who fled to Algeria in August, called on the UN to investigate the circumstances of her husband’s death, Syria-based Arrai television said.

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