Declaration of freedom made 3 days after death of Khaddafy
BENGHAZI, Libya (AFP) – Libya’s new leaders on Sunday declared the country “liberated”, three days after ousted despot Moammar Khaddafy was captured and killed, paving the way for the formation of an interim government.
The long-awaited declaration came amid raging controversy over the circumstances of Khaddhafy’s death after he was taken alive during the fall of his hometown Sirte. Britain said the incident had `’stained” the National Transitional Council (NTC).
“Declaration of Liberation. Raise your head high. You are a free Libyan,” NTC vice chairman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga told a massive rally in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the uprising against Khaddhafy was launched eight months ago.
Tens of thousands of voices echoed him chanting, “You are a free Libyan.”
UN leader Ban Ki-moon called the formal declaration a “historical juncture” after decades of dictatorship and stressed UN support for the NTC’s moves to form an interim government and hold elections.
US President Barack Obama hailed the liberation as a “new era of promise’’ and urged a “national reconciliation process,’’ while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the revolution was the “work of ordinary, brave Libyans.’’
Ghoga called for the militias which fought to oust Khaddafy to pull together.
“Let us commit to build a national army which will be the only legitimate institution of the country allowed to use arms to defend possible outside attacks and the borders of the country,’’ he said.
Benghazi’s Kish Square was awash with the green, red and black ﬂags of the revolution that toppled Khaddafy, while the formal declaration raised a deafening roar that reverberated across the Mediterranean city.
Helicopters showered the crowds with sweets.
Interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil, in his address, stressed that Islamic sharia law would be the main source of the north African nation’s legislation.
Abdel Jalil thanked NATO and regional allies for their roles in toppling Khaddhafy, and paid special tribute to all those who lost their lives in the battle for Libya’s freedom.
“I call on everyone to remove hatred from their hearts… it is essential to build Libya,’’ he added.
The rally was attended by the ambassadors of France and the United States, while several countries such as Britain, Egypt, Sweden and Tunisia were also represented by diplomats. A UN representative was likewise present.
Abdel Rahman al-Kabisi, minister of martyrs and the wounded, told the gathering that the event marked “a great historic moment in beloved Libya’s history.’’