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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 24 February, 2020

The cost of a revolution? Libya's rulers open their books to reveal expenditure

The interim government has publicly revealed spending details amid questions over its legitimacy. Meanwhile fighters in Sirte have made further gains.

Rebels rest in the bed of Gaddafi's palace in Sirte after making further gains.
Rebels rest in the bed of Gaddafi's palace in Sirte after making further gains.
Image: Bela Szandelszky/AP/Press Association Images

LIBYA’S INTERIM GOVERNMENT has opened its books in a bid to fend off criticism over its legitimacy, revealing that very little of the money spent between March and September went to rebel militias who helped overthrow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The Wall Street Journal has been the first to see the books which will be made public today and will show that the National Transitional Council (NTC) spent 1.2 billion Libyan dinars (€714 million) between March when it formed and the end of September, weeks after Gaddafi fled the capital of Libya.

The paper reports that 80 per cent of the money went to salaries in rebel-controlled areas which included €35 million for people who defected from Libya’s regular army, once largely loyal to Gaddafi.

Around 10 per cent of the money went to local governing councils and the remainder covered administration costs.

The figures reveal that the rebel militias were largely funded from other sources such as sympathetic governments, wealthy Libyans, and anti-Gaddafi non-profit organisations. The minister who signed off on the documents described as “peanuts” the amount which it can account for which went to the rebel fighters.

Meanwhile, jubilant revolutionary forces have raised their tricolour flag over a convention centre in Sirte that long served as a base for Gaddafi loyalists, even as fighting raged elsewhere in the fugitive leader’s hometown.

Colonel Younis al-Abdally, a commander in Sirte, says his troops have surrounded pro-Gaddafi fighters in a small area in the upscale neighborhood of Dollar Street.

The statement comes after days of fierce battles, with tank, rocket and machine-gun fire echoing through the streets around the Ouagadougou Convention Center, an ornate complex that Gaddafi frequently used for international summits.

Libya’s new rulers have said they expect Sirte to fall this week, but die-hard supporters of the longtime leader are putting up a fierce resistance.

- additional reporting from AP

Read more about the NTC expenditure in the Wall Street Journal >

Read: Gaddafi wanted to be ‘like the Queen of England’ >

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Hugh O'Connell

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