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Libya: Liberation Announcement Set For Sunday

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Libya’s provisional leaders are planning to declare the country fully liberated on Sunday, a move that clears the way for the start of the process of building a new government.

National Transitional Council (NTC) officials said Saturday that the declaration would be made in Benghazi, the eastern city that became the hub of the anti-government movement.

Initial reports said the NTC would announce liberation on Saturday. There was no immediate word on what prompted the delay.

Also Saturday, Reuters news quotes interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril as saying the first election should take place within eight months, with voters choosing members of a national council that will draft a new constitution. He commented on Saturday while attending the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

Meanwhile, the NTC is trying to determine when and where to bury former leader Moammar Gadhafi. He was killed Thursday after revolutionary fighters stormed his hometown of Sirte. His body has been on display on a mattress in the freezer of an old meat store in Misrata.

On Friday, some visitors used their mobile phones to take pictures of the dead leader. Video of Gadhafi’s body shows what appears to be a bullet hole in the left side of his head and another in the center of his chest.

Uncertainty over how Gadhafi met his end has raised the possibility of an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. The United Nations and rights groups have questioned how he died.

U.N. human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said Friday the circumstances surrounding Gadhafi’s death were “unclear” and that videos showing his demise were “disturbing.”

Mobile phone video shows NTC fighters carrying a wounded and bleeding Gadhafi shortly before he died. Later images showed his body with apparent gunshot wound to his head.

Jibril said an autopsy had been done and that results and samples were being sent to the ICC. Earlier, he had said Gadhafi was pulled from a hiding place in a sewage pipe and later mortally wounded in crossfire between pro- and anti-Gadhafi fighters. Other officials said he was beaten and then killed.

In another development, NATO officials meeting in Brussels Friday agreed to end their mission in Libya. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said alliance members made a preliminary decision to end air operation on October 31.

Gadhafi had ruled Libya for more than four decades when a rebellion began in Benghazi in February and then spread across the country.

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