Libyan embassy in Washington re-opens under rebel government

August 12th, 2011 - 9:56 pm ICT by BNO News  

WASHINGTON (BNO NEWS) — The Libyan Embassy in Washington, D.C. officially re-opened on Thursday under the control of Libya’s rebel council, two days after rebels opened their embassy in London.

Ali Aujali, the U.S. envoy for Libya’s National Transitional Council (TNC), was formally accredited on Thursday as the head of the Libyan mission in Washington. Aujali previously served as the Libyan Ambassador to the United States, under the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, but resigned in February and has since represented the opposition in the U.S. capital.

“This is a message that Gaddafi can no more rule Libya,” Aujali said in a phone interview with CNN. “The recognition of this embassy under the leadership of the TNC is a clear message to the regime the U.S. recognizes the council and they recognize the new Libya.”

Aujali spoke with U.S. State Department officials on Thursday about the Obama administration’s efforts to help the TNC gain access to some $30 billion in frozen Libyan assets, CNN reported. The re-opening of the embassy will also allow Aujali to regain control of the embassy’s frozen bank account, worth about $13 million.

The U.S. State Department in March ordered the Libyan Embassy closed and expelled diplomats loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. On July 15, the United States recognized the rebel movement based in Benghazi as Libya’s rightful government.

The latest move comes after TNC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil dismissed the rebels’ 14-member executive board following the death of a rebel government’s military commander on July 28. Concerns about the mysterious assassination have created internal strife between feuding rebel groups.

On Tuesday, the Libyan embassy in London re-opened under the authority of the TNC. The UK Embassy is being headed by the TNC Charge d’Affairs Mahmud Nacua.

Libya is currently in the midst of a civil war which has so far claimed at least 2,000 lives since the unrest began in February. Other estimates put the death toll from all sides, including civilians, at up to 10,000. An estimated 630,000 people have fled the country so far, with more than 10,000 evacuated from the troubled city of Misrata.

Libyan forces have been accused of violently cracking down on anti-government protesters. NATO took control of foreign military operations in Libya on March 31 under UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorizes member states to take ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians.

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