BENGHAZI, Libya - Libya’s de facto leader said yesterday that he is optimistic that the former rebels will declare total victory over forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy in less than a week, opening the way for a new transitional government.
Despite heavy resistance, revolutionary forces are closing in on Khadafy’s forces in the ousted dictator’s hometown of Surt, the most important of two major cities yet to be cleared of Khadafy’s armed supporters.
“I hope that liberation will be declared in less than a week, after we free Surt,’’ said Mustafa Abdul-Jalil. “And within less than a month we will form a transitional government, and the youth and women will have a role in that.’’
Libya’s new rulers have promised to name a new government that will guide the oil-rich North African nation to elections within eight months.
Abdul-Jalil made his assertion at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Caid Essebsi of Tunisia, who is visiting Benghazi to restore the two countries’ once-extensive trade.
Before Libya’s uprising broke out in mid-February, Libya and Tunisia had close ties, with some $2 billion in trade and tens of thousands of Tunisians working in Libya.
During the civil war that ensued, Tunisia hosted close to a million refugees from Libya.