17/02/2012 01:58 GMT | Updated 17/02/2012 01:58 GMT

Libya Revolution Anniversary: Cameron Promises To Support Country After Gaddafi

One year on from the start of the revolution in Libya, Prime Minister David Cameron has promised that the UK would continue to support the country as it dealt with the legacy of Muammar Gaddafi's dictatorship.

In a message to mark the first anniversary of the uprising against Gaddafi, Mr Cameron said that the Libyan people should be "immensely proud" of the inspiration they had given to others around the world.

And the Prime Minister said that Britain - which played a major part in the military operation to defend civilians from Gaddafi's forces - was proud of its role in supporting them.

Mr Cameron said: "One year ago today, thousands of brave men and women took to the streets of Benghazi in a revolution which spread across Libya, bringing together different tribes, towns and cities to remove a brutal dictator and to return Libya to its people.

"It was a defining moment of the Arab Spring and the Libyan people can be immensely proud of the inspiration they have given others around the world, as we are of our role in supporting them."

He added: "The Libyan authorities are making steady progress towards a peaceful country and in coping with the terrible legacy they have inherited.

"There are undoubtedly years of hard work ahead, including disarming militias and building a new Libyan army.

"But the Libyan people have shown they have the vision and commitment to succeed.

"Britain shares the ambitions of Libyans for a stable, prosperous country based on fundamental freedoms and human rights.

"We will continue to support Libya, especially to deal with the legacy of the Gaddafi era, to entrench the rule of law, and to prepare for the country's first elections for 40 years in June.

"It is the great achievement of the last year that the future of Libya is now firmly in the hands of the Libyan people."

Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced additional UK assistance for Libya's transitional government, including an extra £1 million to clear landmines.

And he said he hoped that the UK visa service will be resumed "shortly" to facilitate links between the countries and promote investment by British companies.

The UK is to hold a human rights conference in the spring to look at urgent steps the transitional government can take to address reports of detainee abuse.

And it will back a programme to promote female and youth participation in the political process, as well as a new partnership to use NHS support to help develop a modern healthcare system in Libya, providing opportunities for private British health companies.

Mr Hague said: "Tangible progress has already been made in the transition to a peaceful and stable country. Libya's future is far brighter than it was a year ago, but there are challenges ahead.

"The UK shares the ambitions of Libyans for a stable, prosperous country based on respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights.

"Today we reaffirm the UK's commitment to supporting Libyans in realising their ambitions, strengthening our bilateral relationship and making progress on resolving the outstanding legacy issues arising from the actions of the Gaddafi regime."

He added: "The work to rebuild Libya is just beginning and there are undoubtedly challenges ahead.

"But it is important to remember what has been achieved - a brutal tyrant has been overthrown, Libyan assets have been unfrozen and can now be accessed to benefit the Libyan people.

"The recent publication of the elections law is an important step in preparing for elections in June, marking the transition to an open and democratic era.

"Civil society is flourishing for the first time in 40 years and people can voice their views freely. Of course it is to be expected that some will be frustrated with the pace of reform but, one year on from the beginning of the revolution, the future of Libya is firmly in the hands of the Libyan people."