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LIBYA: Rebel leaders say transition 'begins immediately'

August 23, 2011 |  4:21 pm

Jibril Mahmoud Jibril, one of the leaders of the Libyan rebel government, said that the country's transition "begins immediately" and that Qatar would host a meeting Wednesday to organize $2.4 billion in aid.

"The fall of the capital means the fall of the regime," Jibril told CNN. "I wouldn't be exaggerating to say that, within the next couple of days, many other liberations will happen."

He added, "In Libya, you say, 'Chop the head and the veins will dry up.' "

Jibril was already planning for the future Tuesday.

"We will build a new Libya, with all Libyans as brothers for a united, civil and democratic nation," Jibril, No. 2 in the rebels' Transitional National Council, said at a Doha, Qatar, news conference Tuesday covered by Agence France-Presse.

"This is the new Libya where every Libyan works as a beloved brother, hand in hand, to serve the interests of the nation to ensure equality and justice for everyone," he said. "We have to be transparent in front of the whole world. Now we have to concentrate on building and healing our wounds."

Jibril said the meeting of donor nations would be "to make provisions and arrange for $2.4 billion for the [council] in order to pay salaries of Libyans before Eid and to arrange for all the medical treatment and the artificial limbs which are required for the injured."

Eid al-Fitr is a holiday that marks the end of the monthlong Muslim celebration of Ramadan.

Jibril praised "our revolutionaries," who he said "have written a page in history."

"They allowed Tripoli to be liberated, and for that help they are in our hearts," he said.

Spokesmen for the new government said it did not matter that Moammar Kadafi had yet to be located late Tuesday.

"It doesn't matter," Mahmoud Shammam, the rebels' information minister, told CNN, adding that rebel forces controlled 90% of the country.

"In a few hours, maximum a few days, we have a new Libya, a new, liberated Libya," Shammam said.

He told CNN that fighting Tuesday was not confined to Tripoli, but raged in several cities "in three or four fronts."

Work was underway to move the rebels' base from Benghazi to Tripoli, Shammam said.

"Half of the government will be in Tripoli tomorrow morning," he told CNN, including the ministries of oil, communications, interior, defense and health.

Crucial to the rebels' ultimate success, he said, will be the release of assets in foreign banks frozen  after the start of the uprising.

"We need to provide ourselves with a lot of necessities and we cannot do this without money," Shammam said.

The rebel government gained legitimacy Tuesday as a number of holdout governments and coalitions recognized it, including Egypt and the Arab League. Jibril is expected to meet with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Milan on Thursday.

However, some are questioning whether Jibril and other rebel leaders can maintain control over their forces, particularly the more than 40 private militias, or katiba. There is also the question of how rebel leaders will deal with Kadafi's tribe and supporters such as the Warfalla. They have drawn criticism for quickly drafting and releasing a draft interim constitution last week without more consultations, and although a U.S. State department spokeswoman said Western officials plan to help with constitution writing, it remains unclear how receptive Libya's new leaders will be to outside help.

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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Mahmoud Jibril at a news conference in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday, hours after rebel forces overran Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi's fortified Bab Azizia headquarters in Tripoli. Credit: Karim Jaafar / AFP/Getty Images

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