Friday was a big day at the United Nations for Libya’s rebels, with the U.N. General Assembly awarding Muammar al-Gaddafi’s old seat to the National Transitional Council and the U.N. Security Council dropping sanctions against two Libyan oil companies.
First, the General Assembly voted 114-17 to recognize the National Transitional Council as the official representative of Libya in the United Nations, Haaretz reports.
According to The Associated Press:
While Gadhafi's government officially occupied Libya's U.N. seat until Friday, it has not had a representative in New York for months. That's because Libya's ambassador, deputy ambassador and diplomatic staff disavowed Gadhafi and became early supporters of the NTC. They have continued to staff Libya's U.N. Mission, but were unable to participate in any U.N. activities — until Friday's vote.
The rebel council’s representatives will now participate in the debates of the 66th session.
"We are so proud because ... that means we are the right people who have the right to lead this country," Ahmed Omar Bani, a military spokesman for Libya's transitional government, told the AP after the vote. “We would like to prove to the world that we are really a democratic country.”
Fifteen countries, including Saudi Arabia, abstained from voting and 17 countries voted against allowing the NTC into the General Assembly, Haaretz reports.
Opponents were Gaddafi-supporting members of a left-leaning Latin America trade group, including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.
(More from GlobalPost: Latin America fights for Gaddafi seat)
Nations in the Southern African Development Community regional bloc also objected because, they said, the rebels did not yet constitute a government, the AP reports.
Libya’s immediate neighbor Egypt was one country that gave its full support to the move. Egypt's U.N. Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz told the General Assembly that Egypt, being "the best witness of the most horrifying times that the people of Libya have lived as a result of an oppressive regime that ruled Libya for more than 40 years," was keen to recognize new representatives for Libya.
Later in the day, the U.N. Security Council unfroze the assets of the Libyan National Oil Corporation and Zueitina Oil Company, which opens the door for the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Foreign Bank, the Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio to purchase humanitarian aid, fuel and electricity, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
The Security Council also established a U.N. mission to promote economic recovery, restore public security and services, protect human rights and coordinate delivery of international aid.