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Stabilizing Libya

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, third from right, addresses members of the Libya Contact Group during a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

"What happens in the coming days will be critical, and the international community has to help the Libyan people get it right."

For the 42 years of his reign, Moammar Gadhafi systematically dismantled what structure, civil society and state institutions had been established or tolerated by the monarchy that he overthrew. His government functioned by controlling the country's oil wealth, through political repression and by playing off competing interests.

"What happens in the coming days will be critical, and the international community has to help the Libyan people get it right," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "First, ... we need to continue NATO’s military mission as long as civilians remain under threat of attack. ... And as the new Libyan authorities consolidate power, we will support their efforts to demobilize and integrate fighters into a single security force.

"Second, we need to welcome Libya back into the community of nations. Nearly 70 countries so far have recognized the Transitional National Council. ... It is time for others to follow suit.

"Third, we must continue to support the interim Libyan authority’s efforts to meet the needs of the Libyan people. The United States and our partners have worked through the United Nations to unfreeze billions of dollars in order for Libya to get access to their state assets to meet critical needs. . . . The United States expects to have delivered $700 million to help the TNC pay for fuel and civilian operating costs and salaries, with another 800 million on the way.

"Fourth, the international community, led by the United Nations, needs to help the Libyan people and their leaders pave a path to peaceful, inclusive democracy – one that banishes violence as a political tool and promotes tolerance and pluralism.

"A great deal of work lies ahead to build a stable, unified, and free Libya – a Libya that has never before existed in its modern history," said Secretary Clinton. "The challenges may be formidable, but so is the progress we have already seen. We have stood with the Libyan people in their moment of need and we must continue to stand with them for the foreseeable future."