10/27/2011 11:00 EDT | Updated 12/27/2011 05:12 EST

Expect relatively smooth transition in Libya, officials tell committee

OTTAWA - Top diplomatic and military officials say they expect a relatively smooth transition to democracy in Libya now that dictator Moammar Gadhafi is dead and the fighting has all but ended.

Brig.-Gen. Craig King, military operations chief, told MPs on Thursday he does not expect to see an insurgency grow out of the conflict between Gadhafi's now-defeated forces and the victorious rebels.

"In order for an insurgency to exist, you have to have popular support of some kind and it has to be coalesced around some kind of leadership," King told the Commons defence committee.

"We're not anticipating that. And, certainly, the former regime has no legitimacy or credibility that would lend itself to an insurgency to which we would have to apply a counter-insurgency."

While loyalists still exist, King said the pro-Gadhafi forces no longer have the ability or the leadership "to mount a concerted threat to civilians" of any kind.

King says military brass are already making plans to bring Canada's 630 navy and air force personnel home "as soon as possible" after the NATO mission in support of the rebels ends on Monday.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to lift the no-fly zone over Libya on Oct. 31 and end its authorization of military action to protect civilians.

The council authorized the actions March 17 in response to an Arab League request to stop Gadhafi's military from harming civilians in the face of a popular uprising.

The subsequent NATO bombing campaign was critical in helping the rebels oust Gadhafi.

The UN council made the decision in spite of Libya's desire for it to wait for a formal request from the transitional government, which was expected Monday.

But the UN's most powerful body decided there was no need to wait after Gadhafi died Oct. 20 and the formal liberation declaration was made last Sunday.

Attention in Libya is already shifting to reconciliation, reconstruction and disarmament, officials told the all-party committee.

Canada has donated $10 million toward ridding the country of mines, unexploded ordnance and weapons of mass destruction. But officials say they are currently in wait-and-see mode on other issues.

Marie Gervais-Vidricair, director general of Canada's stabilization and reconstruction task force, said the UN currently has 10 assessment missions looking at Libya's needs.

Canada's interests, she said, lie in pubic security and the rule of law, along with electoral and constitutional processes.

But Foreign Affairs officials emphasized Libyans have to lead the way.

"They have made very, very clear they don't wish to have bilateral donors going in and driving their own agendas within Libya," said Barbara Martin, who heads the department's Middle East bureau.

"They want to be in control of it. They don't even want the UN to drive that agenda. This is why they've said 'slow down; we need time to get our cabinet in place, then we will have the people with the authority to be able to tell you what our priorities are.'"

Martin also said Canada is satisfied the National Transitional Council played no part in Gadhafi's apparent battlefront execution.

Aside from that, the process appears to be going well and ahead of schedule. Martin said the council had a 30-day deadline to form new cabinet. They expect that to be in place within two weeks.

Added King: "It's a long process. ... We're on a journey here and we're only at the starting stages. ... The public statements are encouraging."