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LIBYA: People living in fear as the AU meets in Addis 0

The fighting in Tripoli is reported to have eased on Thursday morning, but residents fear Moammar Gaddafi’s snipers and more fighting. His supporters continue to fight in some areas, including the airport, but its unclear whether this represents a desperate last stand or the start of a guerrilla campaign.

Many people mostly in Tripoli are living in fear and say it may be difficlt to adjust to the new Libya if it comes forth.

Sami, a 42-year-old engineer in Tripoli, has lived all his life under Col Gaddafi. He told BBC World Service that it would be hard for many Libyans to adjust. “I was brought up in this system, I was educated in this system, you get used to his environment,” he said.

“We have lived this, we understand it – we know the barriers, and we know the rules. It’s part of our lives. To change to something unknown is very difficult.”

Sami said he is not pro-Gaddafi – but is worried by the chaos that have been unleashed by the overthrow of the government. “The situation is getting worse: we don’t have any running water, there is no tap water, you cannot take a shower, you cannot cook. And this is psychological pressure on the families. Everyone is getting nervous.”

Meanwhile, BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mark Doyle reports that the African Union talks in Addis Ababa today are due to focus on the famine in the Horn of Africa but Libya is bound to come up as well. The AU is in a dilemma over Libya because Col Gaddafi was one of its main founders and certainly its key financial backer. Some African leaders felt ignored and brushed aside by Nato.

South Africa a member state of the AU is stalling attempts by the US to release $1.5bn (£910m) of frozen Libyan assets for use by the National Transitional Council. South Africa’s UN ambassador Baso Sangqu said the NTC had not yet been recognised by the African Union.

Sangqu, said funding the rebel leadership would imply its recognition. South Africa and the African Union had still to take a decision on that, he said. “We want to ensure that we follow due process, follow the rule of law,” he added.

In a related development, 200 prominent South Africans, including a senior government minister, have signed a letter condemning the Nato intervention in Libya.

If South Africa continues refusing to allow Libyan assets to be unfrozen, the US will seek to get around the obstacle by calling for a vote at the UN Security Council later today, a spokesman said.

The biggest question for the Libyan opposition is the whereabouts of Gadhafi, who remains elusive despite a $1.4 million bounty and a promise of amnesty by the opposition for anyone who captures or kills the Libyan leader.

Gadhafi took to the airwaves Wednesday, taunting the rebels and calling on loyalists to rise up in Tripoli.

“I have been out a bit in Tripoli discreetly, without being seen by people, and … I did not feel that Tripoli was in danger,” Gadhafi said in an audio message aired by two Arabic-language networks.

Nato is using intelligence resource and electronic tracking device to try to track down Gaddafi.

The SAS is leading the hunt for Gaddafi, according to the Telegraph. Writing in the Independent Gordon Corera, points out that Britain’s secret service is now hunting the man it once did deals with. The NTC is using mini-helicopter drones to track down Gaddafi’s forces, according to the New York Times.

The future of Libya remained uncertain Thursday as rebel leadership moved to secure money to govern while their fighters encountered fierce pockets of resistance.

The head of Libya’s rebel forces is en route to Italy for a meeting with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The European diplomatic tour is aimed at securing the release of billions of dollars in frozen Libyan assets.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil will meet Berlusconi today in Milan. Italy is Libya’s largest economic partner, with trade worth €11bn prior to civil war in February.

Italian firm Eni has dispatched technicians to Benghazi to prepare to restart oil and natural gas production. It said it could take up to a year for oil production to begin.

By Staff writer – Afronline

Sources: BBC Africa, CNN Africa, Business and Leadership, UTV , Channel 4 News

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi