JOHANNESBURG, (AFP) — South Africa said Friday it had agreed to the UN unfreezing Libyan assets only after Washington removed implicit recognition of the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC) from a document.
“South Africa has always supported the approach of the African Union to pursue an all-inclusive peaceful political solution to the Libyan crisis and rejects any narrative towards regime change,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“Consequently, after intensive negotiations, the United States withdrew any reference to the NTC in their letter requesting the unfreezing of the assets, thus excluding any form of recognition of the NTC through this proposal.
“With these changes, after consultations within the AU and considering that the interests of the Libyan people are paramount, South Africa agreed to the release of these funds”.
Pretoria stressed its concern for the “dire humanitarian situation in Libya brought about by the ongoing civil war and NATO’s military campaign”.
The UN Security Council on Thursday released the money to be used for emergency aid after the United States and South Africa ended a dispute.
The assets were frozen in US banks, but South Africa had blocked the release on the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee, saying it would imply recognition of the NTC.
With the dispute dragging on for two weeks, the United States had threatened to seek a full UN Security Council vote on Thursday to make the assets available.
The last-minute accord with South Africa meant that the United States did not press for the vote. A new request was immediately made and approved by the Libya sanctions committee, diplomats said, adding the money would move “within days”.
The decision came less than three days after rebel forces swarmed into Kadhafi’s sprawling compound in the centre of the capital, defeating his fighters in fierce clashes and seizing control of most of the city.