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Essawi set to return as envoy of new Libyan regime

Published: 08th August 2012 09:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th August 2012 09:28 AM   |  A+A-

Over a year after he was one of the first senior Libyan diplomats to defect to the rebel camp, Ali Al-Essawi is set to return to his former post as ambassador in New Delhi - capping the story of a dramatic rise and fall in the new Libyan regime.

 On February 21 last year, Libyan ambassador to India Ali Al-Essawi told the BBC Arabic service that he had quit as the representative of the Muammar Gaddaffi regime - starting a stream of Libya diplomats publicly going over to the other side. His defection came just a few days after the Benghazi rebels in the east had started their rebellion against Tripoli, which eventually toppled the 32-year-old dictatorship of Muammar Gaddaffi.

 Within a month, he was in Paris meeting French president Nicolas Sarkozy, as an emissary of then Benghazi-based National Transitional Council, having being appointed as head of foreign affairs - akin to a de facto foreign minister.

 During his trip to Paris in March last year, France became the first country to recognise the NTC as the legitimate regime in Libya.

 The same month, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution, on which India abstained, that authorised member states to use “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya. This led to the military intervention by NATO air power on behalf of the rebels.

 As the eyes of the foreign media were focused on the oil-rich North African country, Ali-Essawi was the face of the rebels to the world.

 At that time, Al-Essawi’s rise seemed unstoppable, becoming the deputy chairman of the NTC executive committee, and was likely  to become the deputy prime minister or the foreign minister.

 But, his fall from grace was sudden. In August, he was indicted for the assassination of one of Libya’s top military commander, General Abdel Fatah Younis, whose detention had been ordered.

 The powerful Ubeidat tribe, to which General Younis belonged, demanded a scalp and it had one time seemed the rebels would split up. It was the first leadership crisis for the Libyan rebels.

 Ali-Esswai’s name was eventually removed from the list of suspects, but the high-profile politician and diplomat was also effectively sidelined after his removal from office.

 Meanwhile in August, rebels took over Tripoli after Gaddaffi fled the capital. The former dictator was eventually found and shot by rebel forces in October near his hometown of Sirte.

 Now, after remaining hidden from public eye for so long, Ali-Essawi seems to have been rehabilitated, nominated as the representative of the new regime.



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