Tripoli, 8 May:
Following Nicolas Sarkozy’s defeat in Sunday’s French presidential elections, the Libyan government has expressed its appreciation of the support . . .[restrict]provided by France under his leadership for last year’s revolution.
NTC spokesman Mohammed Al-Hareizi also extended the government’s “warmest congratulations” to the new president François Hollande.
Together with the United Kingdom, France played a leading role in galvanising international support for the 17 February revolution, both in helping to push through UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which paved the way for the NATO intervention which helped topple Muammar Qaddafi from power — and in the actual intervention.
In the final weeks of his re-election campaign, however, Sarkozy was dogged by accusations that he accepted a €50-million donation from the Qaddafi regime to fund his victorious 2007 presidential bid.
Doubts were subsequently cast on the authenticity of the letter in which the allegations were documented, with NTC Chairman Mustafa Jalil branding it a fake. Sarkozy also denied the allegations, adding that if Qaddafi had helped finance his campaign, then France’s role in last year’s revolution showed he “wasn’t very grateful”.
Libya’s post-Qaddafi government has retained good relations with France and is currently seeking the extradition of Bashir Saleh Bashir, one of Qaddafi’s closest advisors, who has taken refuge there.
In his final days as French president, Sarkozy said that Saleh would be handed over to Interpol if a formal request was made by the Libyan authorities. Last Wednesday, government spokesman Nasser Al-Mana said Libya was preparing to make such a request.