Stephen Harper says the mounting success of rebel forces battling Moammar Gadhafi’s regime means Canada’s military mission to Libya could end in the near future – but the Prime Minister cautions the North African country will need international help for some time to come.
“We anticipate it will be at least a few days for the process of regime change to actually take place so obviously our military will remain there through this period, respond there accordingly during this period and in the days to follow,” Mr. Harper told reporters who accompanied him to the Arctic.
“Our anticipation is that the military mission will obviously not be indefinite, that it will terminate some time in the not-too-distant future. But we will first make sure the job is actually finished before that occurs.”
Canada, he said, will then have to sit down with its allies to determine the next steps.
Mr. Harper spoke by telephone on Monday night with Mustafa Mohammed Abdul, Chairman of the National Transitional Council.
Libya, he said, needs a whole range of assistance, “all the way from monetary assistance to capacity building. I suspect also there may be some more practical matters of logistics and law and order. We stand ready to help any way we can.”
The country has yet to be decided who will do what, Mr. Harper said, but the entire international community is prepared to help ensure peaceful transition.
“To this point, notwithstanding the fighting, the loss of life, there is good reason to be optimistic here. This is a revolution essentially effected from within, the people overturning a tyrant,” he said.
“In the areas the rebels control we’ve seen life go on, we’ve seen society function. And I think that gives us real optimism that in working with them and our allies in the international community that we can really affect positive long-term change for this country.”