Libyan uprising "at crossroads," rebel leader warns EU
The uprising against Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi is "at a crossroads," the public face of the rebels' Transitional National Council (TNC) warned during a visit to Brussels on Wednesday - days shy of the five-month anniversary of the upheaval, DPA reported.
"It's up to those lovers of freedom and democracy to pledge their support and exert all types of pressure so the Libyan revolution can prevail," Mahmoud Jibril told lawmakers on the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee.
"What's at stake is not only the cause of Libya, but the cause of democracy in the Middle East," he added, arguing that Gaddafi's departure would help shore up the fledgling new democracies in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.
Jibril painted a dire picture of the current situation in Libya, saying during an earlier press conference with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that "the magnitude and scope of destruction is beyond imagination."
Medications and food are running short - a situation likely to worsen during the quickly approaching holy month of Ramadan.
Public employees have also not been paid in two months and there is only enough money for 1.5 million pupils to return to school in a month-and-a-half, Jibril said.
"People can not provide for their families," he noted. "If we do not take care of this, we will have another tragedy, ... this time (caused by) our own hands."
The TNC has repeatedly asked the international community for financial support.
The European Union has provided humanitarian aid to Libya to the tune of 140 million euros (198 million dollars), according to Barroso, who said the bloc stands ready to also "assist in the construction of a new Libya."
Jibril said he remains optimistic despite the difficult circumstances.
"Even if we spill our last blood on this Libyan soil, we will continue until our legitimate (democratic) demands are met," he said. "It's a question of time."
In the meantime, NATO and its allies in the UN-mandated military mission in Libya agreed with Jibril and the TNC on the fact that "NATO's operations to protect civilians must continue," Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.
The military alliance has flown some 15,000 sorties over the North African country since the end of March, destroying nearly 3,000 targets to protect civilians from attacks by Gaddafi's troops.
"Gaddafi's forces are still threatening innocent people," Rasmussen noted after Jibril met with him and NATO ambassadors. "As long as that threat continues, we must continue to deal with it."
The two sides also reiterated that a political solution must be found to the Libyan crisis.
Jibril later told European lawmakers that he thought "too many ideas were floating around" on that front. He is hoping for a "comprehensive initiative" to emerge following a meeting of the international Libya Contact Group on Friday in Istanbul.
Jibril said his side would be presenting a new document about the "stabilization process" that would have to follow Gaddafi's removal. It has already drafted a roadmap for Libya's transition to democracy.