Italy: UN plans Libya political/observer mission

AP News
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Posted: Sep 07, 2011 6:35 PM
Italy: UN plans Libya political/observer mission

The United Nations is expected to help oversee Libyan elections and train local police with political and military missions that will help guide the country through its post-Gadhafi transition, Italy's foreign minister said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini briefed Parliament on the U.N.'s proposals, which were outlined by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter to Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi Aug. 30.

Plans for Libya's political transition have gone into high gear amid claims by Libyan fighters that they have surrounded ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi, even though his exact whereabouts remain unknown.

Frattini said that within a few weeks the entire opposition National Transitional Council would be transferred to Tripoli from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and would declare the creation of a transitory government.

The aim of the U.N. political mission would be to help the NTC prepare, within eight months' time, for the election of a national assembly that would draft a constitution to be put before a popular referendum, he said.

The U.N. would then help plan legislative and presidential elections, as outlined by the NTC's own "road map" for Libya's transition, he said.

Frattini said the U.N. is also expected to recommend _ once conditions on the ground permit _ an unarmed military observer mission to monitor and train local police. U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe has said there will be no U.N. peacekeeping troops in Libya, something the former rebels have ruled out.

Frattini said that while the exact details haven't been worked out, any such force would be composed of military observers from Arab and African countries. But he all but ruled out forces from sub-Saharan Africa, noting that many Libyans today equate sub-Saharan Africans with the mercenaries used by Gadhafi to quash the rebellion.

While such generalities are wrong, he said: "The balance that the United Nations will have to find will be difficult."

Libya's next steps are expected to be discussed at a high-level meeting with Ban in New York on Sept. 20, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Frattini said.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York on Wednesday that the Security Council is waiting for a briefing in the coming days by Ian Martin, the U.N. special representative for post-conflict planning in Libya.

Based on his briefing and a report from Ban, council members would begin drafting a resolution that would "express the council's support and approval of the initial steps that the United Nations intends to take to put a presence on the ground in Libya," she said.

She said the council would also look to revise the financial sanctions against Libya to free up assets frozen when Gadhafi's crackdown began.

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Edith M. Lederer contributed to this report from the United Nations.