Libya’s new leaders yesterday moved to restore order to Tripoli, instructing fighters from the provinces to go home as they prepared to transfer to the capital from their wartime base in Benghazi.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the world body stood ready to assist in re-establishing security after the nearly seven-month uprising that ousted former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi as Western governments that backed the rebels faced embarrassing questions about their previous complicity with his regime.
There was still no firm word on Qaddafi after he threatened to lead a protracted insurgency in audio tapes aired by Arab media on Thursday marking the 42nd anniversary of the bloodless coup that brought him to power.
“Prepare yourselves for a gang and guerrilla war, for urban warfare and popular resistance in every town,” he warned in one of the two audio tapes broadcast by Arab satellite television.
The victorious rebels extended an ultimatum for the surrender of his remaining loyalists until next weekend.
A body tasked with drafting a constitution should be elected within eight months and a government within 20 months, National Transitional Council (NTC) representative in Britain Guma al-Gamaty told the BBC on Friday.
For the first eight months the NTC would lead Libya, during which a council of about 200 people would be directly elected, Gamaty said, referring to plans drawn up in March and refined last month.
“This council ... will take over and oversee the drafting of a democratic constitution, that should be debated and then brought to a referendum,” he added.
Within a year of the council being installed, parliamentary and presidential elections would be held.
Ban said that the world body would do all it could to assist Libya’s new rulers in restoring order and establishing democracy.
“We are working to make sure that the United Nations can respond quickly to requests by the Libyan authorities,” Ban said in Australia yesterday. “This includes restoring public security and order and promoting rule of law, promoting inclusive political dialogue ... and protecting human rights, particularly for vulnerable groups.”
Documents seized from the homes and offices of Qaddafi officials threw an embarrassing light on the extent of cooperation between Western intelligence agencies and the regime’s security services over the past decade as London and Washington wooed Tripoli in their wars against al-Qaeda and nuclear proliferation.
The Wall Street Journal reported that documents recovered from the headquarters of the External Security agency revealed that the US had flown multiple suspects to Libya for interrogation and potential torture as part of its controversial “extraordinary rendition” program.
The CIA, under the administration of then-US president George W. Bush, suggested questions that Libyan interrogators should ask the suspects, the Journal said.
In 2004, the CIA moved to set up “a permanent presence” in Libya, the paper added, citing a note from the agency’s top operative Stephen Kappes to the regime’s then-intelligence chief Mussa Kussa.
Suggesting the closeness of the relationship, the note began “Dear Mussa” and was signed “Steve.”
British daily the Independent said that documents discovered in the offices of Kussa, who went on to become Qaddafi’s foreign minister, showed that Britain and the US even passed on information about emigre dissidents to the regime’s security services.