KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has written to the National Transition Council (NTC) government in Libya noting the “heroic struggle of the Libyan people to throw off the yoke of dictatorship and oppression”.
Eustace’s letter on Wednesday, Sept. 22, came less than one week after Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said that his Unity Labour Party administration would “wait and see” before recognizing the NTC
The NTC is a political body formed by anti-Muammar al-Gaddafi forces to represent Libya during the 2011 Libyan civil war, which has pitted these forces against Gaddafi’s regime, which came to office 42 years ago.
“The situation is still in a state of flux and will resolve itself completely, sooner or later. Let’s understand this: St. Vincent and the Grenadines has diplomatic relations with the state of Libya,” Gonsalves told reporters last week.
However, Eustace, in his letter to NTC chair Mustafa Abdul Jalil, said that while the NDP is in opposition the NTC could “be assured of our solidarity”.
“In government, we look forward to working with a democratically elected administration of the Libyan people in the promotion and consolidation of shared values of freedom, democracy, national development and respect for fundamental human rights,” Eustace said of the NDP, which lost the December 2010 general elections, the third in a row.
The former prime minister said that his party has been following the developments in Libya, where citizens on Feb. 15 began protesting against Gaddafi and his regime, which came to office in a 1969 coup.
Eustace described the on-going situation as “the continuing heroic struggle of the Libyan people to throw off the yoke of dictatorship and oppression, under which they were governed, with steadily increasing severity and impunity, for more than four decades”.
He said that Vincentians “cannot cease to marvel how a regime, from a state blessed with ample resources, and which projected itself as a progressive and benevolent force for good in the developing world, could be so brutal and heartless in the suppression of its own people.
“It reminds us of one of our traditional sayings: ‘Come see me, and come live with me, is two different things!’” Eustace added.
The NDP, Eustace said, “empathise fully with the long-suffering Libyan people, and share with you, and all freedom-loving people of the world, profound sentiments of appreciation for the humanitarian and protective role of NATO forces operating in your country, under the rubric of the United Nations mandate.
“It is, in our opinion, ‘a finest hour,’ when the resolve of the struggling forces of freedom and liberation in a country is matched by the principled solidarity and support of the international community,” he further said.
Eustace, on behalf of his party, saluted “the courageous Libyan people” and congratulated the NTC for its “leadership of the revolutionary struggle … and the notable successes … in the important tasks of establishing order, and anchoring democratic governance” in Libya.
Gonsalves said last week “recognition or non-recognition of a government is a matter which always requires careful thought”.
His statements came even as many of SVG’s traditional allies have recognised the NTC as the legitimate government in Libya and even as the whereabouts of Gaddafi are unknown.
Gonsalves noted that CARICOM had not made a statement regarding recognition of the NTC, adding, “so it’s a wait and see operation” and that “this is not something that you rush into…”
“If in fact they become the established government and they are there with their solidity, we will then say at that point, you are recognizing a practical situation,” the Prime Minister further said.
The U.N. Security Council on Sept. 16, ahead of the 66th General Assembly underway in New York, agreed to deploy a mission to Libya to support the country’s transitional authorities in their reconstruction efforts after the end of the conflict.
The mission will help with restoring the rule of law, drafting a new constitution, promoting reconciliation and preparing for elections.