London cautiously optimistic about Libya

Feb. 17, 2012 at 9:27 AM
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LONDON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Civil society is flourishing in Libya for the first time in 40 years though interim authorities should take steps to address outstanding concerns, London said.

Libyans on Friday marked the first anniversary of the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi. Pro-Gadhafi forces used military force against the opposition, leading to a NATO-led intervention that ended with Gadhafi's death in October.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, in a statement, said he was committing $1.6 million for demining efforts and planned a human rights conference for Libya in May to show London's commitment to the country.

"Tangible progress has already been made in the transition to a peaceful and stable country," he said. "Libya's future is far brighter than it was a year ago, but there are challenges ahead."

Libya enacted laws this month that pave the way toward eventual elections. Human rights groups have said revolutionary groups are running rampant through the country and torture of detainees is a chronic issue.

British forces played a key role in the NATO-led invasion. Hague acknowledged there were difficulties ahead for Libya but remained optimistic.

"Of course it is to be expected that some will be frustrated with the pace of reform but one year on from the beginning of the revolution, the future of Libya is firmly in the hands of the Libyan people," he said.

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