July 28, 2011 in Nation/World

Britain officially recognizes rebels

Los Angeles Times
 
Bomber pro-Gadhafi

 TRIPOLI, Libya – The Libyan man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing attended a pro-Gadhafi rally in Tripoli. Libyan state TV images showing the bomber in a wheelchair revived criticism in Britain of the decision to grant him early release on medical grounds.

 Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi was convicted in the 1988 downing of a Pan Am plane that killed 270 people. He was released from a Scottish prison in 2009 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer and at the time was given three months to live.

Associated Press

LONDON – Britain has ordered the Libyan Embassy’s remaining staff members to leave the country and has recognized the Libyan rebels’ ruling council as the only official representative of the North African nation, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday.

The eight staff members will follow Libyan Ambassador Omar Jelban, who was expelled in May. Five other embassy personnel were ordered out in March.

Hague stressed the British government’s support for the rebel Transitional National Council’s struggle to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, declaring: “The Libyan people can be assured that we will remain on their side for as long as it takes.”

Although Britain had previously made clear its support of the rebel council and has been participating in NATO airstrikes against Libyan forces, official recognition was not in place until Wednesday.

Hague also announced that frozen Libyan assets, including about $127 million belonging to the national oil company, would be released to pay for fuel needed in rebel-held territory and to aid Libyan students in Britain who have been left high and dry by the conflict in their homeland.

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