Libyan rebels have been given another significant diplomatic boost after Britain announced it will recognise their leaders as the country’s sole legitimate government.
The British Foreign Secretary announced that envoys from the rebels’ National Transitional Council will now replace current embassy staff in London.
“Our decision also reflects the responsibilities that the NTC has taken on in the areas under its control,” William Hague told a news conference. “It means we will deal with the National Transitional Council on the same basis as other governments around the world.”
It also means that the NTC will now have access to millions of euros worth of previously frozen assets.
Hague lashed out at the appearance of Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, at a pro-government rally in Tripoli.
“I think the appearance of Mr al-Magrahi on our television screens is a further reminder that a great mistake was made when he was released. The prime minister and I, when we were in opposition, both strongly disagreed with that decision by Scottish ministers,” Hague said.
Al-Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison in 2009 after being diagnosed with cancer. He received a hero’s welome on his return to Libya.