The President’s Office has issued a statement refuting the legitimacy of the Libyan government, and recognising the rebels as the country’s official representatives.
“The Maldives has decided to recognise the Libyan National Transition Council (LNTC) as the sole legitimate representative body of the Libyan people,” the President’s Office said.
The decision followed Qatar’s decision on March 28 to recognise the LNTC, a body given legitimacy on March 10 by France following a meeting with rebel leaders in Paris.
“The Maldives will always support people who stand up against human rights violations,” said President Nasheed. “The Libyan National Transition Council has become the sole legitimate representative of Libya and its people.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem said that Muammar Gaddafi’s government had lost legitimacy through “gross and systemic human rights violations, which appear to amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
The rebel advances made in the wake of NATO airstrikes after Gaddafi’s tank columns came within miles of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi have stalled. Both sides have entered a push-pull statemate over key towns such as Brega
Al Jazeera journalist Hoda Abdel-Hamid, present in Ajdabiya, reported that the rebels were only advancing when Gaddafi’s forces retreated and lacked the discipline to hold ground when pushed back, or coordinate with NATO.
In once instance of friendly-fire, rebels confessed that an air-strike that killed 13 fighters near Brega on Sunday was triggered during a celebratory firing of an anti-aircraft gun while NATO aircraft were operating in the area.
“If you compare where we are today to where we were a few weeks ago, then we are in the exact same position,” Abdel-Hamid said.
Western powers are seeking a diplomatic end to the civil war by persuading Gaddafi to give up his rule of the country, while US President Barack Obama signed an order authorising the use of covert action in Libya, obstentiously providing training and possibly weapons to the rebel fighters.
However Western – and Maldivian – support of the LNTC is likely to be complicated by the complex tribal power struggles in the country once the rebels reach Tripoli.
Veteran war correspondent Robert Fisk, writing for the UK’s Independent newspaper, previously observed that the West has largely ignored that the powerful tribal group leading the rebellion in Libya, the Senoussi, were overthrown in 1969 when Gaddafi deposed their King Idris, and the red, black and green ‘rebel’ flag – the old flag of pre-revolutionary Libya – is in fact the Idris flag, a Senoussi flag.
“Now let’s suppose [the rebels] get to Tripoli. Are they going to be welcomed there? Yes, there were protests in the capital, but many of those brave demonstrators themselves originally came from Benghazi. What will Gaddafi’s supporters do? ‘Melt away’? Suddenly find that they hated Gaddafi after all and join the revolution? Or continue the civil war?”