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Libya: Benghazi rebels assert control

Transitional Council is recognized by Arab League, plans to move to Tripoli.

Libya benghazi 2011 8 28Enlarge
People evacuated from the Libyan capital arrive in the port of Benghazi aboard a ship chartered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on August 27, 2011. The ship carryied 263 evacuees, including Libyan political prisoners who had been freed. ( Eric Fefferberg/AFP/Getty Images)

BENGHAZI, Libya — In eastern Libya, the National Transitional Council is making substantial steps to consolidate their control of the country.

Residents are convinced Sunday that the 6-month civil war is finally coming to a close.

Sporadic fighting continued on near Ras Lanuf on the  outskirts of Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown and stronghold in the center of Libya, according to rebel soldiers returning from the front lines. The rebels said they have captured the eastern town of Bin Jawwad, forcing regime loyalists to flee after days of fighting.

Rebel leaders said they are hoping that negotiations for the surrender of pro-Gaddafi forces in Sirte will prevent an intensified conflict in the area.

However Libyan rebels Sunday rejected an offer by Gaddafi to negotiate participation in a transitional government. Gaddafi remains on the run, but his chief spokesman Moussa Ibrahim that the Libyan leader is still in Libya, according to AP. 

“We want change as fast as possible. We've been waiting for six months. We don't want political talk, we want action.”
~Wael Abe Shadi, Benghazi resident

The rebels dismissed Gaddafi's proposal to have his son al-Saadi lead talks on a transitional government as delusional.

"I would like to state very clearly, we don't recognize them. We are looking at them as criminals. We are going to arrest them very soon," Mahmoud Shammam, the information minister in the rebels' transitional government, told a news conference. "Talking about negotiations is a daydream for what remains of the dictatorship."

The rebel leadership authority, the National Transitional Council (NTC), reiterated its desire to speed up the administration's move to Tripoli, the capital.

The NTC finally released its much-awaited list of names for its 40 members on Saturday. Security concerns had previously kept the NTC from publicly naming more than 13 members of the council.

Also on Saturday, Libya, represented by the NTC, was readmitted to the 22-member Arab League in Cairo, Egypt. The Arab League expelled Gaddafi's Libyan delegation in February following the first security crackdowns on protesters in the country.

More from GlobalPost: Libya: Tripoli calm, hungry but happy

In addition to wresting control of the entire country from Gaddafi forces, the Transitional Council has the pressing challenge of resuming normal supplies of food and water.

Fewer Libyans celebrated Sunday morning in Benghazi's Martyrs' Square, the epicenter of the February uprising against Gaddafi.

Shortages of basic goods are still affecting the city. Cash is still largely unavailable at banks and most gasoline stations are plagued by long lines — some as long as 50 cars deep.

Most in Benghazi indicate they are tired of living with a battered local economy, and very eager to move on from the Gaddafi era.

"We want change as fast as possible. We've been waiting for six months, so we are going to be patient, but we don't want political talk — we want action," said Wael Abe Shadi, 32.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/110828/libya-benghazi-getting-back-normal