News and Views [ May 2001 ]

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Human Rights Solidarity Press Release :
A Mass Trial of 98 Prisoners of Conscience in Tripoli

Thursday, 31 May, 2001: Libya flew troops and military equipment to help Central African Republic's President Ange Felix Patasse Wednesday as his loyalists battled to regain control of Bangui after a failed coup, diplomats said. It was not clear how many troops were on board the planes landing in the landlocked former French colony or whether they were Libyan. One source suggested the soldiers might be from neighboring Chad. "We've been able to confirm that two Libyan planes landed with equipment and soldiers at Bangui airport this morning," one diplomat told Reuters. Loyalist troops have been fighting the dissidents since they launched an attack on Patasse's residence early Monday, reviving memories of a series of army mutinies that battered the impoverished country in the 1990s. [Reuters]
Wednesday, 30 May, 2001: Parliamentary opponents will grill Germany's top two foreign policy officials Wednesday over the leak of a diplomatic cable that left red faces at the Foreign Ministry and on Chancellor Schroeder's staff. Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Schroeder's foreign affairs adviser Michael Steiner will be asked to explain how a sensitive memo summarizing talks between the chancellor and President Bush came to be made public this month. The most difficult questions may focus on one short section of the cable reporting that Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, in talks with Steiner in March, had apparently admitted involvement in the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing and a 1986 attack on a West Berlin night club, the La Belle, used by U.S. servicemen. Lawyers in the trial of the alleged night club bombers, going on now in Berlin, have asked Steiner to give evidence. [Reuters]
Tuesday, 29 May, 2001: U.S. Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, yesterday called on Uganda's President Museveni to open up the political space and allow divergent political views to contend. Addressing journalists at a press conference also attended by Museveni at State House Nakasero, Powell said: I appreciate the efforts by the President since he took power in 1986, but he must be moving towards pluralism to allow the presentation of different view points. Asked about whether he thinks that it is high time the U.S. normalized her relations with Libya's Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, Powell said that: It will be difficult for the U.S. to be convinced about dealing with Libya, reasoning that Libya is the leading proponent of terrorism in the world. Qadhafi was in Uganda two weeks ago to attend Musevenis swearing-in ceremony. [The Monitor]
Monday, 28 May, 2001: A German top-secret memo, saying that Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi admitted to a 1986 bomb attack in Berlin, was leaked by the United States to thwart Germany's economic interests in Libya, the weekly Welt am Sonntag reported today. The conservative newspaper, which quoted officials close to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his Social Democratic party, said Washington deliberately leaked the memo to embarrass Germany's Wintershall oil group, a BASF-subsidiary, currently vying for a lucrative contract in Libya. Along with Shell, BP and TotalFinaElf, Wintershall is in talks with the Libyan government to buy a 60 per cent stake in an oil field from the state-owned NOC company. [AFP]
Monday, 28 May, 2001: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Saturday condemned the US Africa policy, but expressed satisfaction with European policy toward Africa. "The African continent does not oppose U.S. President George W. Bush's call for the establishment of an economic forum to help Africa, but it is opposed to being divided into the north and south," Qadhafi said, quoted by the official Libyan News Agency. Last week, Libya turned down a U.S. invitation for 35 African countries to meet in Washington in October as a preparation for a U.S.-Sub-Sahara Africa economic and trade cooperation forum. In response to the invitation, a Libyan government spokesman said that "we welcome any assistance to Africa, but we, since the establishment of the African Union in early March, have urged external forces to give up their idea of dividing the continent into democratic and undemocratic countries." [People's Daily]

Sunday, 27 May, 2001: A Scotland Yard investigation into an alleged plot by MI6 to kill Colonel Qadhafi has been broadened in a move which appears to discredit claims by Robin Cook, the British foreign secretary, that the security service's involvement was "pure fantasy". A year after the investigation began, detectives have been asked by the Crown Prosecution Service to gather corroborative evidence and extend their inquiries. Prosecutors who have read a preliminary police report, submitted in February, have decided there is a prima facie case which merits further investigation. "We are pursuing the matter and it is not fantasy, but neither have we reached any conclusion," said a police source. [The Sunday Times]
Sunday, 27 May, 2001: The Islamic world urged Saturday the U.S. to take urgent action to halt Israeli "aggression" against the Palestinians, and called on Islamic countries to halt all political contact with Israel, at an emergency ministerial meeting in the Qatari capital on Saturday. Qatar's emir, as president of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, called on "the American administration and President George Bush to intervene urgently" to bring an end to the violence. Libya, meanwhile, called for retaliation against Mauritania for sending its foreign minister to Israel despite an Arab League call for a halt in political contacts with the Jewish state. [AFP]
Sunday, 27 May, 2001: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is offering Africa new help with humanitarian crises but suggests the U.S. will try to stay clear of direct military involvement. "America will be a friend to all Africans who seek peace, but we cannot make peace among Africans," Powell said. Speaking Friday at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Powell pledged "to take more action on our side to help with the humanitarian situation'' in Sudan. At his university speech, Powell drew some boos and heckling, and he also was confronted with critical questions on U.S. policy toward Iraq, Libya and Cuba. Protesters prevented his motorcade from leaving the university for about half an hour after the speech. [AP]
Saturday, 26 May, 2001: The Organization of African Unity (OAU) Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim announced Friday that the OAU will be replaced by a new "African Union" in a year. A senior U.S. official traveling with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell accused Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, who first proposed the Union, as responsible for much of the instability in West Africa. Mali President Alpha Konare and Secretary Powell had a "brief" discussion about Libya, the official said, and Konare "recognized that Libya is involved in a lot of [West Africa's] problems." But while President Konare "thinks Qadhafi has the potential to change, Secretary Powell said he has not seen any evidence of any change." [Africa News]
Saturday, 26 May, 2001: The Organisation of African Unity will be around for at least another year before it is replaced by the African Union, which officially comes into being on Saturday, OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim said. "In terms of political and legal reality, as from tomorrow, we will have the African Union," Salim told a press conference at OAU headquarters Friday to mark the 38th anniversary of the pan-African body. But the African Union (AU), the brainchild of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, will only be fine-tuned at a summit in Lusaka in July of African heads of state, he added. The transition from the OAU to the AU will last "at least one year", he said. [AFP]
Friday, 25 May, 2001: Eight of Mauritania's opposition parties, in a letter addressed on Tuesday to visiting Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, decried Mauritania's lack of civil liberties and called upon Wade to press for more freedom. Since the last quarter of last year, Mauritania has been plagued by political instability, including the arrest of several opposition members and leaders and the dissolution of the Union des forces democratiques-Ere Nouvelle. The leader of the Front populaire, Mohamed Lemine, is currently on trial on charges of "criminal conspiracy" to commit acts of terrorism and sabotage in collusion with Libya. [IRIN]

Thursday, 24 May, 2001: Thirteen major U.S. trade associations, representing thousands of American businesses and farmers, today called on Congress to oppose reauthorization of the Iran Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA). In a letter sent to all Senators and Representatives, the organizations urged Congress not to tie the Administration to a failed policy. "It would be unwise in the extreme for Congress to renew sanctions or to impose new ones before the new U.S. Administration has developed its policy," said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Co-Chairman of USA-Engage. "Reauthorizing ILSA is wrong for so many reasons. Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot again," he said. [Yahoo]
Thursday, 24 May, 2001: The Organization of African Unity (OAU) is being transformed on Saturday into a higher form of union as envisaged by its founding fathers on 25 May, 1963, when signing its historic Charter. Thirty-eight years later, a day after OAU's anniversary, the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which replaces the OAU, attains the legal requirement for entering into force, 30 days after the deposit of the instruments of ratification of the Act by two-thirds of member states. In line with the decisions of the 5th OAU extraordinary summit held 1-2 March this year at Sirte, Libya, the African Union becomes both a political and legal reality on 26 May, as proclaimed by Article 28 of its Constitutive Act. [The Daily Monitor]
Wednesday, 23 May, 2001: The German government ordered Monday an inquiry into the leaking of the minutes of a meeting between Chancellor Schroeder and US President Bush that has turned into a diplomatic embarrassment for Germany. German media began last week releasing details of the report of the March 29 meeting in Washington of Bush, Schroeder and their top foreign policy aides that had been sent back to Berlin by German ambassador Chrobog. Among other indiscretions it said Schroeder's top foreign policy advisor Michael Steiner had told Bush that Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi had admitted to him that Libya was behind the 1986 bombing of the La Belle discotheque in Berlin. Both the German and Libyan governments have denied that Steiner obtained the admission about the La Belle bombing from Qadhafi. [AFP]
Wednesday, 23 May, 2001: U.S. Congressional sponsors plan to introduce legislation on Wednesday to extend unilateral U.S. economic sanctions against Iran and Libya for another five years, congressional spokesmen and lobbyists said on Tuesday. In an effort to show resounding support, the bill to be introduced by Rep. Ben Gilman, a Republican, and Rep. Howard Berman, a Democrat, is expected to have more than 169 members of the U.S. House of Representatives as co-sponsors, Brian Walsh, Gilman's spokesman, told Reuters. Senate sponsors of similar legislation have 63 senators in their corner but are waiting to reach 67 -- three fourths of the Senate -- before formally introducing the bill, a Senate Republican aide said. [Reuters]
Tuesday, 22 May, 2001: Libya's high court Monday sentenced seven people to death in a case involving bloody clashes last year between Libyans and African migrant workers, Libyan radio and TV reported. The riots, which led to scores of deaths, took place last September in Tripoli, and Al-Zawiyah town, some 25 miles west of Tripoli. The seven defendants sentenced to death include five from neighboring African countries and two Libyans. The court also sentenced another 12 defendants to life imprisonment. The remaining sentences range between six months and 15 years imprisonment; 160 Libyan and African defendants were acquitted. More than 300 were charged, most of them Libyans, though there were also some citizens of Nigeria, Niger, Ghana and Chad, in what is the biggest political trial in Libya in recent times. The court session, held in Tripoli, was attended by a representative of the Community of the Sahel and Sahara states, Comessa; representatives from Nigeria, Sudan, Ghana, Chad, Uganda, Tunisia and Egypt. It was also attended by the ambassadors of the African countries to Libya, and several international news agencies. [UPI]
Monday, 21 May, 2001: Libyan minister in charge of African affairs Ali Abdulsalam el Triki Sunday paid a brief visit to Khartoum for talks with Sudanese president Omar el Bashir and other senior officials. Sudan's foreign minister Mustafa Osman told reporters later that bilateral relations as well as the recent normalisation of relations between Sudan and Uganda under a Libyan initiative were the major topics. [PANA]
Monday, 21 May, 2001: The Libyan secretary general of the people's committee for African Unity Ali Abdulsalam el Triki on Thursday signed with the Vietnamese minister of building up an agreement of cooperation between Libya and Vietnam in the framework of strengthening relations between the two countries. The agreement stressed deepening co-operation between the two sides in the economic, industrial, financial, investment, tourism, education, cultural, information, youths and sports fields. [Arabic News]
Monday, 21 May, 2001: Visiting President Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic, has met with the Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on the African Union, which comes into force 26 May, officials said in Tripoli Friday. Both men also discussed the consolidation of relations between their countries. Patasse arrived in Tripoli late Thursday. [PANA]

Sunday, 20 May, 2001: Britain's leading foreign affairs think tank has cancelled a seminar due to be held next week after The Telegraph revealed that one of the participants [Saleh Ibrahim al-Mabrouk] had been expelled by Britain following the killing of WPc Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in 1984. The Royal Institute for International Affairs, at Chatham House, declined to say why the planned seminar will not take place, insisting that it had "never been confirmed". Al-Mabrouk was part of a four-man group of the Libyan Revolutionary Committee - students who were expelled after WPc Fletcher was shot dead during a protest. Al-Mabrouk, who was alleged to have been under the control of Libyan intelligence, was part of the group that was believed to have given orders to open fire on the protesters. A spokesman for the Foreign Office said yesterday: "Chatham House's decision had nothing to do with the Foreign Office. Al-Mabrouk is free to apply for a visa to visit the United Kingdom and any application from him will be dealt with in accordance with the usual immigration rules." Police said al-Mabrouk was one of those they wanted to interview. "He was a member of the committee in charge of running the embassy." [The Telegraph]
Sunday, 20 May, 2001: Libya, at the forefront of African unity efforts, blasted on Saturday US President George Bush's invitation for 35 sub-Saharan African nations to attend in October a Washington forum on economic and social reform. "We are in favour of all aid to Africa but demand since the birth of the the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) that foreign forces stop splitting Africa between democratic and non-democratic countries," a Libyan government spokesman said. The Libyan government was responding to Bush's invitation to African nations made Wednesday as part of US efforts to strengthen ties with Africa. [AFP]
Sunday, 20 May, 2001: The US embassy in Berlin has demanded an urgent explanation from Germany over the reported leak of a top-secret memo about a meeting between Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and US President George W. Bush, the German weekly Focus said. The paper said US diplomats had warned that the leak of the document -- which among other things reported a purported statement by Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on a 1986 bomb attack in Berlin -- could seriously damage US-German relations. The document, said to contain the minutes of a meeting between the two leaders in March, was published on Tuesday by the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Both the German and Libyan governments have denied that Steiner obtained the admission from Qadhafi. Focus said the US embassy in Berlin had asked the foreign ministry to "quickly explain" how the paper got hold of the minutes, contained in a wire sent by Germany's ambassador in Washington to his colleagues in Berlin. [AFP]
Saturday, 19 May, 2001: The Libyan authorities say they have found the decomposed bodies of 93 African immigrants who were stranded and died of thirst in the Saharan desert. The state news agency Jana quoted interior ministry officials in the southern Murzuq region as saying the immigrants entered from Niger at Toummo crammed inside a lorry which took a desert track to avoid border controls, and broke down. A search was under way for others who may still be lost in the desert, a ministry statement said. "The bodies were buried where they were found because they were decomposed," the ministry said in the statement on Thursday night. Libyan officials estimate that more than one million African workers live in Libya. [Reuters]
Saturday, 19 May, 2001: Cyprus and Libya signed in Nicosia today three bilateral agreements providing for the extradition of offenders, transfer of sentenced persons and cooperation in combating the illicit use and trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and organised crime. Cyprus Minister of Justice and Public Order Nicos Koshis and Libya's Secretary of the General People's Committee for Justice and General Security Abdulrahman Alabbar, who signed the agreements underlined the need for the two countries to coordinate efforts for combating crime. [CNA]
Saturday, 19 May, 2001: TotalFinaElf said it has a discovered a new oil deposit in the Murzuk basin around 800 kms south of Tripoli in Libya. It said a test carried out at the A2 well on Block NC 186 produced flow rates of up to 2,670 barrels per day in light oil, confirming the existence of commercial oil reserves. In addition, TotalFinaElf said the Libyan authorities have ratified an onshore exploration and production sharing agreement concluded with the Libyan National Oil Corporation covering the NC 191 and NC 192 blocks. [AFX]
Saturday, 19 May, 2001: Chinese State Councilor Ismail Amat met Friday with Saad Majber, assistant secretary of Foreign Communication and International Cooperation of the General People's Committee of Libya. The host and guest had a friendly exchange of views on strengthening bilateral relations and other related issues. The Libyan guest is in Beijing for political consultation between the foreign ministries of the two countries at the invitation of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. [Xinhua]
Friday, 18 May, 2001: German diplomacy is laboring in an embarrassing crisis after new excerpts from confidential minutes of talks between Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Bush appeared in the press on Thursday. A story on the memo in the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on Tuesday forced the government to admit to a secret meeting with Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and to deny a suggestion in the same leaked note that the Libyan leader confessed to a role in the Lockerbie bombing to Schroeder's foreign policy adviser. Some have speculated whether U.S. interests might have found a way to disrupt Berlin's new ties with Libya, including in the oil industry, of which Washington does not entirely approve. [Reuters]
Friday, 18 May, 2001: The UK's Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) is reviewing its policy on Libya with a view to possibly easing insurance cover rules governing UK exporters. Sources at ECGD say a technical paper on restoring medium- term cover was being prepared and an announcement could be made by the end of May. Despite the absence of export cover, trade with the UK has continued, with many UK companies prepared to carry the risks involved in entering the Libyan market. UK exports to Libya grew by more than 10 percent last year to 187 million pounds (270 million US dollars), from 177 million pounds (257 million dollars) in 1999. [PANA]
Friday, 18 May, 2001: Libya's national soccer team yesterday confirmed that they will play Kenya's Harambee Stars in a friendly game next week. On June 2, Libya will be at home to play Cote d'Ivoire in a Nations' Cup Group Seven qualifier. The 25-strong Libyan squad is due to arrive in Nairobi on Saturday aboard a special Libya Airlines flight from Tripoli. In their last match, Libya broke Egypt's perfect run in the qualifiers when they drowned the Pharaoh's 2-0 in Benghazi in March. [The Nation]
Friday, 18 May, 2001: A Saudi Holding Company is moving ahead with plans to develop a hotel complex in Tripoli. The company signed a memorandum of understanding with the government in February and has now opened the tendering for the hotel's design. Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (Lafico) would be cooperating with Kingdom Holding to develop a 50,000-square-metre site near Tripoli's sea front. The five-star hotel would have 262 rooms, conference and banqueting facilities, and may be operated by Switzerland's Movenpick, sources close to the project hinted. Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns 30 per cent of Moevenpick, would be the leading shareholder in the project. Kingdom Holding says it expects to open the hotel within three years. [PANA]
Friday, 18 May, 2001: Libya is to finance three projects of over 6.5 billion francs CFA (about 9 million dollars) in Niger involving the drilling of bore holes, construction of roads and renovation of airport runways. The government daily, "Le Sahel," Thursday reported that the first project has to do with the drilling of 10 bore holes in the Irhazer region (north of the country). The second has to do with a partial tarring the Agadez-Zinder road. The third concerns reinforcement of roadways and extension of the landing runway at Mano Dayak airport in Agadez. [PANA]
Thursday, 17 May, 2001: The Cuban president, Fidel Castro, has arrived in Libya on the latest leg of a tour of Arab and Asian countries, for talks with the Libyan leader, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Mr Castro was greeted by Colonel Qadhafi at the site of his former home in the capital, Tripoli, which was bombed by the United States air force in 1986. Both leaders share animosity towards the US and were allies of the former Soviet Union for decades. They are expected to hold wide-ranging talks, before Mr Castro flies on to Lisbon on Thursday. [BBC]
Thursday, 17 May, 2001: The German government has denied a report that Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi admitted to a German official that Tripoli was involved in the Lockerbie bombing and an attack on American soldiers in Berlin. The Foreign Ministry, however, declined either to confirm or deny the report on Tuesday in the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine daily that Berlin's ambassador to Washington had written in a secret diplomatic telegram that Qadhafi had made such an admission in March to a senior aide to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. And while Schroeder's spokesman denied, in guarded terms, that the Libyan leader had made any confession, the report did force him to confirm that the chancellor's foreign affairs adviser, Michael Steiner, had indeed held secret talks with Qadhafi on March 17. [Reuters]
Thursday, 17 May, 2001: The opposition Uganda people's Congress (UPC) has criticised Libyan strong man Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi for advising president Museveni to rule for life. "He (Qadhafi) should know that Uganda is a republic where every leader is subject to elections. Those who want to behave like monarchs and hang on to power are doomed. They should forget about it because Ugandans will certainly never accept that," ruling Presidential Policy Commission (PPC) vice Chairman Henry Mayega said yesterday. His UPC counterpart Dr. Adonia Tiberondwa also joined him on condemning the Libyan president. [The Monitor]
Wednesday, 16 May, 2001: A lawyer for survivors of a 1986 Berlin disco bombing demanded Tuesday that the German chancellor's top security adviser testify in court about talks in which Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi reportedly acknowledged Libya's role in that attack and the downing of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. Attorney Andreas Schulz said the adviser, Michael Steiner, informed U.S. President George W. Bush and other key administration figures of Qadhafi's admission during a briefing in Washington on March 29, also attended by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. He cited a memo on the briefing prepared for the German Foreign Ministry by the U.S. ambassador in Washington, Juergen Chrobog. However, Schroeder's spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye later Tuesday said that "individual cases from the past were not discussed" when Steiner and Qadhafi held a confidential meeting March 17. [CNN]
Wednesday, 16 May, 2001: China has seized a cache of top-secret documents which divulge some of the most sophisticated techniques of US spying methods, escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing. The material was found aboard the American EP-3E spy plane which collided with a Chinese jet fighter and was forced to land in Chinese territory on Hainan island. The Chinese have learned from the seized material that American eavesdroppers can recognise individual Chinese military officers by the sound of their voices, the Washington Times disclosed today. Using the equipment, linguists of the National Security Agency, the US electronic eavesdropping service, identified the voice of Libyan leader Colonel Qadhafi when he was speaking on Libya's communications net, and that of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev while he was travelling through Moscow in his limousine. [This is London]
Wednesday, 16 May, 2001: The Kentucky Consular Center in Williamsburg, Kentucky, USA, has registered and notified the winners of the DV-2002 diversity lottery. The diversity lottery was conducted under the terms of section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Twenty six Libyans were among those who have been registered and notified and may now make an application for an immigrant visa. [Africa News]
Wednesday, 16 May, 2001: President Yoweri Museveni has given visiting Libyan leader, Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, 200 bags of sugar. A State House statement said Museveni presented the gift to Qadhafi during a visit by the two leaders to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda in Lugazi yesterday. Meanwhile, Col. Qadhafi hosted his host, President Museveni, to a dinner, May 12. The dinner, which took place at Qadhafi's private residence in Nakasero, was attended by First Lady Janet Museveni and visiting Burundian President Pierre Buyoya. [The Monitor]
Tuesday, 15 May, 2001: Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi made waves Friday when he urged President Museveni to stay on in power. Museveni, who was sworn in for second and last constitutional five-year term as president, is supposed to leave power in 2006. Qadhafi said that as a revolutionary, Museveni should not go through elections because he did not come through elections. So while we all appreciate the sentiment Col. Qadhafi was trying to evoke in urging our own president not to subject himself to elections, some of us disagree with it. The true test of democracy is the ability of a people to regularly check on their leaders through regular elections or referenda. To tell a man who has just started a second term in power, that he has no reason to be elected is a red herring for trouble. [The Monitor]
Tuesday, 15 May, 2001: Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and his entourage, yesterday carried their own food to Jinja where they toured Bujagali Falls with President Yoweri Museveni. The entourage had lunch at the Nile Resort Hotel. Qadhafi who did not make any speeches signed a visitor's book in which he commended the Hotel management for their hospitality. There was confusion when Qadhafi's aides asked for a pen with green ink with which to sign the visitor's book. The hotel's deputy manager, Mr. Tom Abuto, had to run up and down trying to locate the pen requested by the Libyan leader after failing to get one from among his staff. [New Vision]
Monday, 14 May, 2001: A court in Libya has adjourned for the 12th time a trial in which six Bulgarians and a Palestinian are accused of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus. "The hearing was suspended until 2 June to satisfy lawyers' demands for more questioning of the defendants and to allow doctors to examine some of the accused," said Judge Ibrahim Lajnaf. Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said recently that injecting the children had been part of a foreign conspiracy against Libya. "This case is a horrible crime. It is a catastrophe," he said, adding that some of the defendants had confessed to being employed by the American CIA and Israel's Mossad secret service. [BBC]
Sunday, 13 May, 2001: Uganda and Sudan have agreed to mend ties under the mediation of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, Uganda's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Sudan has long accused Uganda of supporting southern rebels fighting the Islamic government in Khartoum, while Sudan shelters Ugandan rebels opposed to President Yoweri Museveni. Libya's Qadhafi, who arrived in the Ugandan capital Kampala from Sudan on Friday for the inauguration of President Museveni, has convinced the two states to reinvigorate the deal. [Reuters]
Saturday, 12 May, 2001: A high-ranking U.S. envoy met with Indian officials on Friday to discuss the strategic implications of U.S. President Bush's missile defense system. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's one-day visit to New Delhi is part of a larger U.S. effort to seek support of its defense plan. "The missile defense that we envision is one that would be directed only at a handful of rogue states and only against a handful of missiles," Armitage told reporters. Armitage mentioned Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea as some of the known. [AP]
Friday, 11 May, 2001: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi arrived in Khartoum Thursday for talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir on an Egyptian-Libyan peace initiative for Sudan and on other issues, the official SUNA agency said. Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail told reporters Qadhafi would hold talks with Beshir later Thursday on efforts to reach peace and reconciliation in Sudan and reactivate agreements between their two countries. Qadhafi told reporters on his arrival at Khartoum airport that his visit comes in the context of "ongoing consultations" between the leaderships of the two countries on issues of mutual concern. [AFP]
Friday, 11 May, 2001: The trial of six Bulgarians charged with deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with the HIV virus may resume in Tripoli on Sunday. "I believe it will resume on Sunday...a delay may be granted only as an exception," Osman al-Byzanti, the Libyan lawyer hired by the Bulgarian government to defend the five nurses and doctor told Reuters by telephone today from Tripoli. The trial, which has stirred passions in Bulgaria, has been postponed 11 times at the request of the defence since it formally opened in February 2000. Eight Libyans and a Palestinian face similar charges. A ruling could come within four to five weeks if defence and prosecution submissions are completed on Sunday, Byzanti said. [Reuters]
Friday, 11 May, 2001: Egypt and Libya have expressed total willingness to implement all agreements between them as well as eliminate obstacles to starting joint strategic projects. In separate speeches at the ongoing 7th session of the Libya-Egypt Joint Commission, the Secretary to the General People's Committee (Prime Minister), Embarak el-Shamekh, and his Egyptian counterpart, emphasised the importance of bilateral cooperation. El-Shamekh said he favoured the joint exploitation of resources of both countries and the promotion of a complementary cooperation within the framework of the Community of Sahelo-Sudanese States. [PANA]
Friday, 11 May, 2001: Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has proposed the change of venue for the forthcoming annual summit of the OAU to South Africa instead of the Zambian capital, Lusaka. Qadhafi made the proposal Wednesday commending Zambian President Frederick Chiluba for his decision not to seek a third term in office. "The decision of President Chiluba not to run for a third term proves his sincerity to respect his commitments not only to his own people, but also to the people of Africa and the world at large", Qadhafi said in Tripoli. By that decision, Qadhafi said Chiluba would no longer be in a position to complete his term as chairman of the OAU that he was expected to assume at the 37th summit in July. [PANA]
Friday, 11 May, 2001: The U.S. House of Representatives struck back at the U.N. on Thursday, freezing the final payment of U.S. arrears to the world body until the U.S. regains its lost seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Supporters of the measure said the U.N. action to drop the U.S. from the commission was payback for outspoken U.S. support of human rights worldwide, calling it outrageous that the U.S. had lost its seat on a commission that included some of the world's most egregious human rights violators. "We will not turn the other cheek as the Sudans and Libyas of the world declare the U.S. unfit to serve on the Human Rights Commission,'' said Rep. Tom Lantos of California. [Reuters]
Thursday, 10 May, 2001: A law that punishes foreign companies for doing business with Iran or Libya drew support Wednesday from U.S. lawmakers considering whether to renew the measure for another five years. The 1996 law, set to expire in August, imposes economic sanctions against foreign companies that invest in the Iranian or Libyan oil industries. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday that the administration has not decided whether it supports renewing the law. However, President Bush indicated last month that he has no plans to lift the sanctions "anytime soon" as part of his energy strategy, although he considered it important to review all sanctions policies to "make sure they're effective." [AP]
Thursday, 10 May, 2001: German chemicals group BASF AG said on Wednesday it was among firms bidding for rights to drill for oil and natural gas in Libya but did not expect to violate the rights of U.S. companies in doing so. "We are interested in acquiring drilling rights in Libya," BASF spokesman Michael Grabicki said. "Our understanding is that the acquisition of these rights offered by Libya will not violate the rights of any third party including U.S. companies,'' he said. A survey published by UK consultants Robertson Research in March showed that Libya and Iran were the two most popular countries among international oil companies for investment in new exploration activities. [Reuters]

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Wednesday, 9 May, 2001: Conoco Inc. Chief Executive Officer Archie Dunham said on Tuesday some managers at Libya's national oil company appeared to favor selling oilfields Conoco was forced to abandon 15 years ago because of unilateral U.S. sanctions against Libya, but he said he did not expect this to happen. "We feel very strongly that the Libyan national oil company will do nothing to diminish our ownership in that concession," Conoco, Marathon Oil Co. and Amerada Hess Corp. were forced to abandon oil and gas properties they owned in Libya in 1986 when the United States implemented sanctions against the country, which it accused of sponsoring terrorism. However, Libya continued to recognize the U.S. oil companies' ownership of the assets and Conoco, a leading opponent of U.S. sanctions against Libya and Iran, has said it hopes to return to both countries if and when sanctions are lifted. [Reuters]
Tuesday, 8 May, 2001: Libya and Russia decided Monday to strengthen their cooperation in all sectors, including the military, during a visit to Tripoli by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. After he met with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and Libyan foreign minister Abdel-Rahman Shalgham on the first official visit to Libya by a Russian FM, Ivanov said the relations between the two countries were "historical and solid". "There is a clear and strong political decision to develop and stimulate relations between Libya and Russia. We have agreed to increase the number of cooperation chapters as much as possible", said Shalgham during a joint press conference with Ivanov. [AFP]
Tuesday, 8 May, 2001: Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov met Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi Monday and said it was no one else's business if Russia wants better relations with Libya, which the U.S. says is involved in terrorism. Ivanov said that Russia was interested in several areas of possible economic cooperation. "Russia is interested in participating in such areas of cooperation as oil and gas, electricity, nuclear energy, transportation and communications," Ivanov said at a Tripoli press conference. "If someone doesn't like how our relations are developing, that's the business of the third country," he said. [AP]
Monday, 7 May, 2001: Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov arrived in Libya Sunday bearing a letter for leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi from President Vladimir Putin, the Interfax news agency reported. Ivanov was to meet with Qadhafi Monday and present the message, the news agency said, citing Ivanov as he arrived in Tripoli. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has been reviving ties with Soviet-era allies such as Libya, North Korea and Iraq. Earlier this year, the United Nations lifted sanctions against Libya that were imposed as a result of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The U.S. has kept Libya on its list of countries involved in terrorism. [AP]
Sunday, 6 May, 2001: Two of the states accused in a US report of involvement in terrorism have hit back by accusing Washington itself of responsibility for terrorist acts. Iran and Libya as well as Iraq, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, Libya and Syria were cited in the US State Department's annual review of terrorism, released earlier this week. But a senior Libyan foreign ministry official rejected the accusations, saying Tripoli had been on the receiving end of "numerous attempted aggressions and assassinations" at the hands of the US. The Libyan official spoke of "organised state terrorism" against it by the US and its Nato allies in 1986, for example air raids on Tripoli and Benghazi, which, Libya said at the time, killed 31 people. Washington was also involved in "diabolical and unprecedented political intervention and pressure" to influence the outcome of the Lockerbie case, Libya's JANA news agency quoted the official as saying. In Tehran, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the US report "lacks credibility and acceptance as far as the international community and Iran are concerned". [BBC]
Saturday, 5 May, 2001: U.S. Senators Jesse Helms and Joe Biden don't agree on much, but the Republican chairman and the ranking Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had similar messages for the German foreign minister this week. Time has learned that in separate, private meetings in Washington with Jochka Fischer, Germany's top diplomat, both Helms and Biden warned that a major German oil company is negotiating to acquire huge oil deposits in Libya controlled by U.S. companies. Such a purchase, the senators cautioned, could harm U.S.-German relations by triggering sanctions under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. The bipartisan warning from Helms and Biden is likely to raise the profile of the Libya issue at a time when the Bush Administration is increasingly concerned with the high cost of oil and energy. [Time]
Saturday, 5 May, 2001: A six-member Libyan team is in Mogadishu, Somalia, to assess setting up a radio and television station for the Transitional National Government (TNG), the director of information for the TNG, Abdirahman Dinari, told IRIN. Dinari said the team, led by Ali Juwaydah, head of the government-owned HornAfrik radio, included radio and television experts. Dinari said the Libyan team was also in Mogadishu to find out about ways of exporting Somali bananas and livestock to Libya. [IRIN]
Friday, 4 May, 2001: "Press freedom has made no progress in the world since World Press Day was proclaimed on 3 May 1991," the Libyan daily "Al-Fajr al-Jadid" observed in its Thursday issue. Al-Fajr al-Jadid notes that "the western media is dominated by Zionist lobbyists and multinational companies which exploit them to serve their own colonialist interests." The editorial writer of the paper points out that the problem of press freedom was directly linked to that of democracy throughout the world. "The conflict on the freedom of the press and of expression will continue as long as the problem of democracy remains unsolved," the paper concludes. [PANA]
Friday, 4 May, 2001: Interfax news agency quoted "well-informed sources" as saying on Thursday Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov would visit Libya on May 6-7. Interfax gave no further details. The Russian Foreign Ministry could not immediately confirm the report. Russia is making efforts to restore ties with old Soviet allies, also including countries like Iraq, Iran and North Korea, which have been described by the West as "rogue states". Earlier this year, the United Nations lifted sanctions imposed on Libya after the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Scotland in which 270 people died. Libya remains on the U.S. black list. [Reuters]
Friday, 4 May, 2001: Former South African President Nelson Mandela on Monday evening held a telephone conversation with the Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on the latest developments in the Lockerbie affair. An official source said Wednesday in Tripoli that Mandela had told Qadhafi that he was continuing his efforts to convince the other parties to respect their part of the agreement in the affair. On 30 January this year, the Scottish court sitting in Camp Zeist, Netherlands handed a life sentence to one of the suspects, Abdelbasset al-Megrahi while his colleague, Al Amin Fhima was acquitted. Reacting to the judgement, Mandela criticised the United States and Britain for refusing to lift sanctions against Libya as they had promised when Tripoli accepted to extradite its two citizens for trial abroad. [PANA]
Friday, 4 May, 2001: Libya has pledged to shortly provide 5,000 tonnes of rice and maize in food aid to people seriously affected by a cereal shortage in Burkina Faso, an official source said Wednesday in Ouagadougou. According to a press statement from the Burkinabe foreign ministry published at the end of a meeting of the Burkina-Libya joint commission held 28-30 April in Ouagadougou, Libya also promised to finance the building of lecture theatres at the University of Ouagadougou and the construction of roads. [PANA]
Thursday, 3 May, 2001: Scotland's High Court says it has granted defence lawyers another six weeks to prepare their appeal against the conviction of a Libyan for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. "The period for lodging grounds of appeal has been extended by six weeks from May 2," the court said in a statement. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was found guilty at the end of January of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town, and sentenced to life for the murders of the 270 victims, with a recommendation he serve at least 20 years in a Scottish prison. [Reuters]
Wednesday, 2 May, 2001: The United States has denied allegations by Libyan leader, Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi that it (US) invented HIV/AIDS in order to destroy Africa. US Embassy reacted to the allegations in a statement in Abuja, Nigeria, yesterday, describing it as a spurious claim." "We rejected these groundless claims, and we showed our displeasure by leaving the conference hall." Col Qadhafi alleged at the African Summit on HIV/AIDS that the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) developed the HIV/AIDS virus in its laboratory to destroy Africa. He accused Western pharmaceutical industry of deliberately withholding HIV/AIDS drugs from African patients of the scourge. The US said however, that in spite of the Qadhafi episode it would continue to cooperate with African leaders in the fight against AIDS. [Vanguard]
Wednesday, 2 May, 2001: Armed bandits yesterday ambushed the financial attache of the Libyan Arab Peoples' Jamhiria (Libyan Embassy) in Kampala, Uganda, and robbed him of sh6.7m. Police said the envoy, whose name could not be established had just drawn the money from the Tropical Arab Bank. He was reportedly on his way back to the embassy when the robbers overtook him and blocked his car at Acacia Avenue and robbed him on gunpoint. [New Vision]
Tuesday, 1 May, 2001: Lawyers acting for the Libyan secret agent found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing have until Wednesday to lodge full written grounds for his appeal against conviction, a court official has said. "The grounds of appeal have to be lodged by close of play on Wednesday," a spokesman for Scotland's High Court said. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was convicted at the end of January of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town and sentenced to life for the murders of the 270 victims. His Edinburgh-based lawyers immediately said they would appeal and were given six weeks to submit their reasons over the complex and lengthy case. They were granted a six week extension on March 19 and that deadline expires on Wednesday. The court spokesman said the defence could ask for a second extension, although judges would have to decide whether to allow this. [Reuters]
Tuesday, 1 May, 2001: About 30 Ugandan pilots have been flying with the Libyan Airforce since 1979. Sources in Tripoli told The New Vision the Uganda Government funded the crew's training in Russia. "They were sent to Russia during Idi Amin's regime in the 70s. They trained and qualified to fly the MiG-21 fighter jets and other types of aircraft. Some of them are very good engineers and technicians," the source said. "But by the time they completed training in Russia, Amin's regime had been overthrown. They were all then brought to Tripoli and integrated in the Libyan airforce," he said. The source, however, said some of the Ugandan pilots had resigned from the Libyan airforce and switched to civilian life. [New Vision]
Tuesday, 1 May, 2001: A chartered plane carrying a Ugandan delegation returning home from Libya on Wednesday was delayed for two hours after Sudan reportedly refused to grant it clearance to over-fly their airspace. Informed sources told The Monitor yesterday that the delegation which included Ugandas vice president was held at Tripoli International Airport for more than two hours. Two people who travelled on this chartered plane said there was a delegation from the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) who travelled along with them. [The Monitor]
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