Libya and Egypt brought the Arab Spring to the annual UN summit on Saturday, hailing the changes in their own country — while keeping a few grumbles about the rest of the world.
Mahmoud Jibril, the prime minister in Libya’s National Transitional Council, told the UN General Assembly how his nation had been reborn with the overthrow of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr told the assembled ministers and leaders that Egypt had entered “a new era” and with a new face after the downfall of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
“Today I stand before you, excellencies, to show the world that a new Libya is coming to life,” Jibril said. “Libya that looks forward, Libya that has a view to redevelop itself, Libya that wants to heal its wounds, Libya that wants to overcome its pain, to reach out to the entire world. It wants to rebuild itself, to reform its history.”
Jibril recalled Qaddafi’s speech at the same podium in 2009, which lasted more than one hour and climaxed with the former strongman tearing up a copy of the UN Charter.
Jibril called it “a pathetic, theatrical move.”
He acknowledged that the transitional council was still not in total control of Libya and that it faced major economic problems. He appealed for the UN Security Council to completely lift the freeze on tens of billions of dollars of assets abroad.
“The asset freeze on our funds must be lifted as urgently as possible,” he said.
So far, the UN council has only eased the sanctions to help Libya get its economy moving again. Diplomats say restrictions will change as the interim government takes complete control.
Jibril and other leaders say they expect to announce the lineup of the first post-Qaddafi government within days.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian minister took to the podium and said Egypt was moving “forward determined to complete the transition phase that arose from that remarkable transformative change.”
He praised the demonstrators who took to the streets to bring down Mubarak and the Egyptian army for supporting them.
The soldiers “truly exemplify genuine patriotism and unity with the people of our nation. The stance of our armed forces will be remembered by history,” Amr said.
The minister also highlighted the changes sweeping the Middle East. He criticized the diplomatic Mideast Quartet for their call on Friday on Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table within a month.
He said the Quartet — the US, Russia, the EU and the UN — had failed “to come up with a balanced vision” of a final settlement.
Amr also expressed concern about government crackdowns on protesters in Syria and Yemen.
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