UK urges Libyan rebels to keep order in Tripoli

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 22, 2011 3:24 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain urged the rebel Libyan National Transitional Council to maintain order and not pursue reprisals after rebel fighters swept into the heart of the capital Tripoli on Monday.

Britain, which has played a lead role in international efforts to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, wants to avoid a repeat of the chaos and bloodshed in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Prime Minister David Cameron has cut short a summer break in southwest England and returned to London where he will chair a meeting of the government's security council on Monday.

"The first and most important thing is to make sure that civil order is preserved, that there is food, that there is water, there is power -- all the things that people need to make sure their daily lives go on," foreign office minister Alistair Burt told BBC TV.

"The evidence of what has happened in other cities would suggest that when the National Transitional Council has been in charge instead of the Gaddafi regime things have worked perfectly well, perfectly smoothly," he added.

"(There have been) no major reprisals against those who had previously been supporting the regime and that of course is what we want to see -- stable order in Tripoli as quickly as possible," he added.

The end of Gaddafi's four-decade rule would be a welcome fillip for Cameron's diplomatic policies after a difficult few months domestically in which he has seen his image tarnished by the fall-out from a tabloid phone hacking scandal and riots in English cities.

(Reporting by Keith Weir, editing by Tim Pearce)