Upbeat after being formally recognised by France on Thursday, the Libyan opposition combating the regime of strongman Muammar Qadhafi now wants to be accorded a similar recognition by other countries, including India.
Speaking warmly of India, opposition spokesperson Iman Bougaigis said: “We have had a very good relationship with the people of India and at this juncture we are looking for formal support from India” She added: “Libyans will not forget people who stood by them at the time of their need.”
In a courthouse room crammed with foreign journalists, Ms. Bougaigis spoke passionately about rebuilding Libya, soon after she received a phone call that said France had become the first country to accord the Provisional Transitional National Council formal recognition.
As the news filtered out of the room and onto the road outside packed with people and cars, there was spontaneous honking of horns, and a short while later, the customary celebratory gunfire.
Outside on the walls of the courthouse, a banner said in bold letters: “Thank You France.”
But the atmosphere outside the courtroom soon acquired a touch of surrealism, as the celebrations were broken by a procession of mourners carrying flagged coffins for burials of those killed in the fighting along the frontlines against Mr. Qadhafi's forces.
Speaking of India, Ms. Bougaigis said: “We would like India, which is such an important democratic country, to support us. Lot of us have been educated by Indian teachers and I personally have fond memories of being taught by Indians.”
She added that the re-emerging Libya would be a democracy, based on rule of law, separation of powers and anchored in a constitution that respected civil liberties and human rights. As she spoke, Ms. Bougaigis asked an activist to work on a public poster that would say: “Yes to rule of law. No to Al-Qaeda.”
Opposition activists were optimistic that European countries would take a leaf out of France and soon recognise the PTNC. “We are hoping to hear some good news from Germany, Britain and Turkey,” said Ghanem Bashir, an opposition activist and an engineer by training.
Underscoring the importance of a formal recognition, members of the anti-Qadhafi camp pointed out that their new status would allow them access to funds, necessary to fight the regime, from oil exports.
The revenues generated by oil sales were still being funnelled into Libya's state-run National Oil Company (NOC). Besides, a formal recognition would impart the opposition the legitimacy to purchase modern weaponry, required to combat the regime over the long haul.