Libyan rebels seek $2-3bn in foreign loans

Libya's rebel leadership expects foreign powers to lend it $2 billion to $3 billion secured against frozen Libyan state assets held abroad, a rebel finance official said on Tuesday.

Libya's economy depends almost entirely on oil and the rebels have struggled to revive crude exports since taking control of the east of the country from Muammar Gaddafi in February, leaving them low on funds.

Ali Tarhouni, who heads the rebel national council's finance committee, said the rebels were spending between 50 million to 100 million Libyan dinars ($43 million-86 million) per day.

"The liquidity that we have domestically most likely will carry us at this rate for three weeks or at the most four weeks," Tarhouni said.

He expected foreign governments such as France, Italy and the United States to extend the lines of credit and the money should arrive within a week to ten days.

"I need about $2-3 billion and we are hoping to get most or all of this," Tarhouni told reporters in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi. "That will last me for three months."

With Libya's economy in tatters after more than two months of civil war, funds to pay for food, medicine and the state salaries on which most of the population depends are running low.

The insurgents had been hoping for a swift overthrow of Gaddafi but his better-trained and better-equipped militias halted the rebel advance west and forced a stalemate in the fighting that could last months.

"We are still discovering different segments that need to be paid that we thought were paid," said Tarhouni. "At every single moment another need arises in terms of food, medicine and in terms of people who are injured."

Supplies of fuel -- vital to keeping eastern towns supplied and maintain the military campaign against Gaddafi -- are also tight.

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