Tunisian recognition indicates Kadhafi end: Libyan rebels

DVBP533 4 WP 0305 LBY /AFP-VP73 Tunisia-Libya-conflict-rebels REAX Tunisian recognition indicates Kadhafi end: Libyan rebels BENGHAZI, Aug 21, 2011 (AFP) - Tunisia's recognition of Libyan rebels' National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of Libyans is a clear message to Moamer Kadhafi that his end is near, a top rebel said Sunday. "We welcome any recognition from any country and regardless of the timing," said Fathi Baja, a member of the rebel council, referring to reports that Tunisia had recognised the NTC. Tunisia's official news agency TAP on Sunday reported that Tunisia has decided to recognise the NTC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. Fathi said Tunisia had itself "implicitly" recognised the NTC earlier. "Tunisia implicitly recognised the NTC when they received 150,000 refugees, opened the doors for NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to get inside Libya from their land, embraced many defectors and allowing them to have meetings and discussions," Fathi said. "It is a message to Kadhafi that it is over." Since the outbreak of the conflict six months ago, Libya's neighbour Tunisia has observed a prudent neutrality towards the warring sides. Some 700,000 refugees have fled the fighting onto Tunisian soil. Tunisia is currently sheltering around 100,000 Libyans nationwide, many of them taken in by Tunisian families. Thousands of them, anticipating the imminent fall of Kadhafi, demonstrated on Saturday night in front of the Libyan embassy, unfurling a huge rebellion flag across the building's facade. Many Libyan representatives from both the Kadhafi regime and the rebellion have transited Tunisia, where negotiations and informal discussions have been held, notably on the resort island of Djerba. hba-jds/afq AFP 211351 GMT AUG 11