October 21, 2011 / 8:54 AM / 7 years ago

France's Juppe says NATO mission in Libya is over

PARIS, Oct 21 (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Friday NATO’s military intervention in Libya was now over, following the death of Muammar Gaddafi, but that France would assist the interim authorities in the transition towards a democratic government.

“The military operation [in Libya] is over,” Juppe said in a radio interview. “All Libyan territory is under NTC control and, aside from a few transitional measures, NATO’s operation has reached its end.”

On Thursday, French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said French forces would remain in Libya for the time being to protect civilians from any ongoing violence but would start drawing up a timetable to wind down operations.

Gaddafi was killed on Thursday after being captured by fighters of the National Transitional Council (NTC) who overran his last bastion of resistance in his hometown of Sirte.

Juppe told Europe 1 radio that France would help the NTC, which plans to stay in power for a further eight months.

“We trust the NTC to handle its responsibilities ... and of course we will help them in this new phase which is the reconstruction, indeed the construction, of Libya,” he said.

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy spearheaded a Franco-British move in NATO to back the revolt against Gaddafi. In the U.N.-mandated military operation to protect civilians, NATO has since March 31 been conducting air strikes, enforcing a no-fly zone and maintaining an arms embargo with naval patrols.

Also speaking in the Europe 1 interview, the NTC’s envoy in France said the council would set up a commission to investigate the circumstances of Gaddafi’s death.

Mansour Saif al-Nasr said the toppled Libyan leader was injured on Thursday in an exchange of fire outside Sirte and later died of his injuries.

Several versions have been given of how Gaddafi died, with Defence Minister Longuet saying on Thursday he had been pulled dead from his vehicle.

Images broadcast by Al Jazeera television showed him being manhandled by fighters and struck on the head with a gun.

“A commission will now be set up to investigate Gaddafi’s arrest and death,” al-Nasr said.

Al-Nasr, the European spokesman for the NTC, said the council planned to remain in power for a transitional period of eight months to begin the push for a new democracy.

“The new government will begin by creating democratic institutions, creating an independent legal system, opening schools, hospitals,” he said. (Reporting by Vicky Buffery; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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