US Bid to Unfreeze 1.5 B in Libyan Assets Stumbles over South Africa's Refusal

World | August 25, 2011, Thursday // 08:57|  views

Rebel fighters shoot in the air, and they celebrate in Shuhada Square, and formerly known as Green Square, after troops overran the rebel headquarters, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, fortified (Bab Al Azizia), Libya on 23 August 2011. EPA/BGNES

Attempts of the United States to get approval for the release of USD 1.5 B in Libyan assets have ground to a halt due to opposition from South Africa.

Wednesday's request of the U.S for a U.N. Security Council decision on the unfreezing of the money for humanitarian purposes was blocked by South Africa, which said it would wait for guidance from the African Union (AU), which has not recognized the rebel leadership as the legitimate Libyan governing authority.

The U.S proposal was referred to the Security Council after the council's Libya sanctions committee, which is responsible for decisions on the matter, stumbled over South Africa's refusal.

U.N. sanctions committees work on the basis of consensus, which means all 15 Security Council members have the power of veto.

South Africa has said that freeing up funds in support of the National Transitional Council (NTC) would mean recognizing it, which could not happen before AU's decision on the matter.

AU is to hold a meeting on the recognition of Libya's rebel leadership on Thursday.

The U.S referred its request to the Security Council in a bid to sidestep the sanctions committee and obtain an approval requiring nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the five permanent council members.

The U. S. alone has blocked a total of USD 37 B in Libyan assets.

The step of freezing Lybian assets was taken in response to Muammar Gaddafi's brutal crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators earlier this year.

The rallies triggered a civil war and U.N. approval for NATO intervention.

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Tags: NATO, Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, UN, UN Security Council, United States, National Transitional Council, rebel forces


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