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Africa

Libya rebel leaders visit EU, call for recognition and no-fly zone

media Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who invited Mahmud Gebril … File photo: Reuters/Thierry Roge

Members of Libya's rebel leadership visited Brussels Tuesday and asked the EU to recognise the legitimacy of a alternate ruling body in Libya. They called on the West to impose a no-fly zone over the country. Two leaders were invited to the European Parliament by former Belgian Prime Minister and the parliament's Liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt.

Libya's former planning minister and a founding member of the provisional national council, Mahmud Gebril, said that "recognising an alternative, legitimate body, where a national consensus was gained for that body, is the most effective political reaction the EU can take".

He called for "military assistance without direct military intervention," saying that imposing a no-fly zone over Libya would help empower people fighting Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

He and former ambassador to India Ali al-Essawi stressed the need for immediate humanitarian aid, particularly medical supplies.

France has endorsed the national council, and the two leaders are to meet with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé in Paris on Wednesday.

Verhofstadt said he had invited the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to meet with the two men, who are also to meet with EU Commissioner for humanitarian aid Kristalina Georgieva.

The European Parliament is split over what measures the EU should take to help the Libyan opposition, and is due to make a decision Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the EU agreed Tuesday on new sanctions on Kadhafi’s regime, targeting five economic entities, including the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) and the Libyan Central Bank.

The LIA, the entity through which Libya invests its oil revenues overseas, holds significant shares in the Italian bank UniCredit, as well as the defence and aeronautical group Finmeccianica.

The sanctions now need to be approved in writing by the governments, and could be enforced by Friday.

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