UN shelves Libya military observer plan

A plan to deploy up to 200 United Nations unarmed military personnel to help stabilize Libya has been abandoned after the country's new interim government said no to foreign soldiers.
Libyans pray during the first day of Eid al-Fitr near the courthouse in Benghazi on Wednesday. The Eid al-Fitr festival marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (Esam Al-Fetor/Reuters)

A plan to deploy United Nations military personnel to help stabilize Libya has been abandoned.

A 10-page document written by the UN Secretary General's special adviser on Libya that was leaked and published online recently called for the deployment of 200 unarmed UN military observers, with their own protection force, and 190 UN police to help stabilize the country. The document also outlined plans for UN-assisted elections within the next year.

In the report, dated Aug. 22 , author Ian Martin suggested UN military observers be deployed to prevent the possible ill-treatment of Gadhafi loyalists by so-called rogue elements.

However, Martin conceded that his suggested plan has now been dropped.

"It's very clear the Libyans want to avoid any military deployment by the UN or others. They are very seriously interested in assistance with policing," he said Tuesday, adding that could include monitoring or mentoring police officers.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the transitional council, said Tuesday he had met a day earlier with NATO officials in Qatar, where it was decided that no foreign soldiers would be needed in Libya.

"We decided that we do not need any forces to maintain security, be it international, Muslim or other," he said.

Martin also said the UN has been asked to help with elections, which he called a monumental task.

Libya's rebels urged to end attacks against blacks

Amnesty International is urging Libya's rebels to end attacks against blacks, saying fighters engaging in such abuses should be immediately detained and investigated.

Amnesty said on Wednesday its delegation in Tripoli has witnessed a number of incidents in which the rebels detained or abused black hospital patients.

Black Libyans and workers from Sudan, Chad, and other sub-Saharan African nations have been targeted by the rebels because of opposition claims that Moammar Gadhafi's forces recruited African mercenaries to fight in the six-month civil war.

On Tuesday, the head of the African Union warned that the rebels may be indiscriminately killing black people.

— The Associated Press

"Let's remember there's essentially no living memory of elections," he said. "There's no electoral machinery. There's no electoral commission. No history of political parties. No independent civil society." In his report, Martin says 40,000 election staff will need to be be recruited and trained before Libyans can go to the polls.

Martin also says the UN will appoint a gender adviser to ensure the representation and integration of women in any transitional government.

Eid celebrations

In the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Wednesday, hundreds of people gathered at sunrise in newly-renamed Martyr's Square to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

For some residents, such as Khalid Ahmed Salam, this marks the first Eid he has celebrated without Moammar Gadhafi in charge.

Libya will soon be one of the best countries in the world — just like Canada, he told CBC's Derek Stoffel in Arabic. We will one day soon have democracy and we will make this country great, he said.

Despite the Eid celebrations, tension is building ahead of a Saturday deadline for pro-Gadhafi forces in Sirte, the deposed leader's hometown. to surrender. The Gadhafi loyalists say they will defy the deadline. The rebel-led National Transitional Council is threatening to launch an assault to take control of the city.

Meanwhile, France has asked the UN to unblock about $2.13 billion of Libyan assets that are frozen in French banks. A French official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said France is seeking the release of about one-fifth of the $11 billion US in Libyan assets frozen in French banks. The comment marked the first time someone has estimated the amount of Libyan money frozen in France.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is to spend part of Thursday in Italy visiting Canadian Forces members who have been participating in NATO airstrikes against targets in Libya. From there, Harper will go to Paris for a half-day international meeting on the future of Libya.