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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gaddafi's envoy to India given key post by rebels

Ali Al Essawi, former ambassador to India and one of the first Libyan diplomats to have raised the banner of revolt against Muammar Gaddafi, is the rebels' choice to reach out to the world. The Libyan National Council, which has emerged as the main representative of Libyan people, has appointed Essawi in-charge of foreign affairs.
Essawi is a member of a Crisis Committee formed by the Benghazi-based Council, which met on Saturday to chalk out the path ahead for the revolutionaries and help in decision-making. The committee has two other members, including a head of military affairs.
Essawi, who had shifted to a hotel in Delhi after resigning from his post last month, has said that while the Opposition does not want international troops in Libya, it does want the international community to save Libyans. To prevent air strikes against the rebels, he called for the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. He also alleged that foreign mercenaries were being hired to fight on behalf of the regime.
After his resignation, Essawi continued to work with the council leaders and others in the diplomatic community to resist violence being perpetrated by the Gaddafi regime. Despite the presence of Gaddafi, the council's legitimacy as the main Opposition body continues to increase, with countries such as France siding with its objectives.
As the rebels continue to march towards Tripoli, India is breathing a sigh of relief as two-thirds of its citizens have been brought home safely. The foreign ministry said a record number of more than 2,300 Indian nationals were evacuated from Libya in the past 24 hours. Three special Air India flights from Tripoli and one from Sebha, and Red Star One ferry carried out the task. The ministry said in a statement that more than 12,000 Indians would have been pulled out of Libya by Sunday evening.
The second Boeing 747 sortie brought home 400 passengers from Sebha (Libya) to Mumbai. Daily sorties have been scheduled to evacuate all the remaining persons from Sebha over the next few days.
"In the second round, MV Scotia Prince picked up all the remaining 972 of our nationals from Benghazi and is headed to Alexandria, where it is expected to reach on Monday afternoon. These passengers will be flown back to India on four special flights (one of them IL 76) on Tuesday and Wednesday," the statement said.
MV Red Star One ferry commenced its return journey to Malta from Misurata (Libya) on Saturday evening, with all 301 Indians desirous of leaving Libya and 29 foreign nationals on board, including six from Bangladesh.

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