News and Views [ October 1999 ]

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Sunday: 31 October, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Friday decried ``imperialist powers'' in the Middle East and said Arabs must fight their military presence with force. ``The Arab world has been colonised, and it needs to be liberated once more with the before the First World War,'' Qadhafi said in an interview on the London-based MBC satellite station monitored by Reuters in Cairo on Friday. ``Military imperialism is back's a real imperialism with tanks and guns and soldiers which needs to be fought.'' Qadhafi, 57, in power since 1969 but marginalised in the Arab world and denounced in the West as a sponsor of terrorism, delivered a lengthy diatribe against the United States and other Western military powers involved in the region. ``I am against Operation Bright Star (and other military operations) because they pose a threat to the independence of Egypt, Libya and the Arab countries,'' he said, adding that the United States was increasingly encroaching on the Arab world with 20,000 soldiers based there. [Reuters]
Sunday: 31 October, 1999: A CIA branch that monitors foreign news reports and sells translations is excluding Cuba and Libya from its menu until embarrassed government lawyers clear up concerns about copyright violations. The Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) has been used for decades by academics, journalists and other researchers who pay a fee to receive English translations of news reports from around the world. [The Miami Herald]
Lockerbie charges in full

Saturday: 30 October, 1999: More than 1,000 witnesses have been listed to appear at the trial of the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing. The disclosure came as the two men were served with the indictment accusing them of conspiracy and murder following the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am Boeing 747 airliner, which claimed 270 lives. The indictment, running to more 5,800 words, was served on Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi and Al Amin Khalifah Fhimah by prison officers at the Camp Zeist temporary detention centre in the Netherlands where the men are awaiting trial. It stated that the two men were members of the Libyan Intelligence Services and conspired, along with others, to destroy Pan Am flight 103 and murder those on board and 11 people in the Scottish town of Lockerbie. The Crown Office said it has proposed calling more than 1,000 witnesses and that there would be almost 1,500 documents and 550 other articles of evidence. It has been estimated that the trial, which is due to start on 2 February 2000, could last up to a year and will be heard by three judges, sitting without a jury, under Scots law. [BBC]
Saturday: 30 October, 1999: Libya on Friday denounced Mauritania's establishment of full diplomatic ties with Israel and said it was a ``coup'' against North African countries. The official Libyan news agency JANA, monitored in Tunis, said Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi telephoned Morocco's King Mohammad, Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to discuss the issue. The agency said Mauritania's move -- only the third accord of its kind between an Arab state and Israel -- was ``a dangerous violation'' and a ``coup directed at the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU).'' [Reuters]

Friday: 29 October, 1999: Scientists from sensitive countries such as China or Iran are to be barred from connecting with the U.S. Energy Department computers that contain even unclassified information beneficial to a nuclear weapons programs, says a department official. ``We will have a policy out within the next five days that will greatly tighten foreign access'' to computers at the department's weapons laboratories, department security director Eugene Habiger told a House Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday. Countries that are considered sensitive are: Algeria, Cuba, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, North Korea, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, China, including Hong Kong, and the former Soviet republics of Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. [AP]
Thursday: 28 October, 1999: Cyprus and Libya signed an accord Wednesday restoring relations to what they were before international sanctions were imposed on Tripoli seven years ago, officials said. Visiting Libyan Justice Minister Mohammed Belgacem al-Zouai and Cypriot Finance Minister Takis Klerides signed the agreement, which follows the lifting of the sanctions in April. Klerides said the agreement "opens wide the doors to Cypriot entrepreneurs to develop trade and economic relations in a friendly country". [AFP]
Thursday: 28 October, 1999: A German accused of taking part in a 1975 terrorist attack on an OPEC oil ministers' conference in Vienna has implicated Libya in the plot, a newspaper reported Tuesday. Hans-Joachim Klein, who was arrested in France last year and extradited to Germany for trial, is expected to testify that the terrorist commando came to the Austrian capital from Libya, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on its Web site. The report, quoting unnamed German investigators, said the idea to take the OPEC ministers hostage ``allegedly came from (Libyan leader Mu'ammar) al-Qadhafi himself.'' Three people were killed in the attack. [AP]
Wednesday: 27 October, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has received Yugoslavia's highest decoration from President Slobodan Milosevic in recognition of his efforts to boost bilateral relations, the official Libyan news agency JANA said Tuesday. JANA, monitored in Tunis, said the ``Great Star'' medal had been brought to Libya by Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Lilic, a close associate of Milosevic. Libya, the only Arab country to have condemned NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia during the Kosovo crisis earlier this year, is an important supplier of oil to Yugoslavia. Qadhafi kept close contact with Milosevic during the Yugoslav leader's crackdown on the mainly Muslim ethnic Albanians of Kosovo that was halted by 11 weeks of NATO air strikes on the Balkan country. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 27 October, 1999: Libya’s Zueitina Oil is having energy and communications technology firm Nessco install a fiber-optics system in the Libyan desert. The project would link the Zueitina command center with oil and liquefied petroleum gas plants across northern Libya, and would develop a full telecommunications infrastructure while allowing Zueitina to remotely monitor power generation systems. [North Africa Journal /PANA]
Wednesday: 27 October, 1999: Electricity ministers from five Arab countries on Tuesday discussed progress on projects aimed at linking national grids in the Middle East and North Africa. Saudi Arabia's industry and electricity minister Hashem Yamani, chairman of the two-day meeting, listed four major cross-border projects, the first of which would connect Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. The Egypt-Jordan link was inaugurated on March 12. Yamani told reporters after the meeting with his counterparts from Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Kuwait that other projects would link the eastern and western parts of the Arab world by 2001. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 26 October, 1999: In a new global index of human rights abuses, Libya comes 13th on a list dominated by African countries. Taking deaths in custody, extra-judicial killings, torture and disappearances into account, the human rights survey showed the worst countries were in the Great Lakes region of central Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, Algeria, Sierra Leone and Egypt made the top six, with Sudan in eighth place. North Korea was in seventh position, Indonesia in ninth and Yugoslavia in tenth. They were followed by Pakistan, China, Libya, Myanmar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Chad and Congo. The index took account of unfair trials, detention without charge or trial, the existence and use of the death penalty, prisoners of conscience and abuses by armed opposition groups. Each country's population was weighted. [AFP]
Tuesday: 26 October, 1999: Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail on Monday accused the United States of pursuing a policy that prolongs the war racking Africa's biggest country. He told Reuters in an interview in Cairo that the Islamist-led government in Khartoum believed the United States could play a very important role in ending the 16-year-old conflict, if it acted in a neutral, fair way. Ismail, who is due to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday and see Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in Tripoli a few days later, said Washington was wrong to dismiss out of hand a peace effort launched by Egypt and Libya in May. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said after meeting southern Sudanese rebel leader John Garang in Nairobi on Saturday that she did not support the Egyptian-Libyan plan. [Reuters]
Saturday: 23 October, 1999: Diego Maradona is in Libya to offer advice on developing the country's soccer program. Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported Thursday that Maradona was invited by Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's son, Al-Saaidi, who also is the head of the Libyan Football Federation. Former Argentine national coach Carlos Salvador Bilardo also is in Libya to assess the national team while he considers the possibility of training it. Al-Saaidi al-Qadhafi is trying to revive Libyan soccer, which has been affected for seven years by U.N. sanctions that included a ban on international flights. [AP]

Friday: 22 October, 1999: In the UK, the Foreign Office has denied any deal was done to bring two Libyan suspects to trial for the Lockerbie bombing. A spokesman said no offer of immunity from prosecution has been offered to Libyan Leader Colonel Qadhafi as an enticement for him to hand over two of his citizens. The rebuttal was given as three US senators sought the release of an alleged secret annex to documents relating to the UN-brokered agreement which saw the men handed over. The senators have asked for access to full details of a letter from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Col Qadhafi setting out the terms of the agreement to hand the men over and said that without this, relatives' "doubts" would remain. A Foreign Office spokesman said: "It is not clear what letter the senators are referring to." [BBC]
Thursday: 21 October, 1999: The United States stored 12,000 nuclear weapons and components in Morocco, Japan, Iceland, Puerto Rico, Cuba and at least 23 other countries and five territories during the Cold War, according to a new article based on a recently declassified document. The document, a secret study written by the Defense Department and titled ``History of the Custody and Deployment of Nuclear Weapons,'' is described in the cover story of the November/December issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The article authors caution that the declassified study and an annex listing the countries where nuclear weapons were placed or stored contain some errors. For instance, the annex fails to list Portugal's Azores Islands or Libya, places where the authors say other declassified documents show the Strategic Air Command stored nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s. [New York Times]
Thursday: 21 October, 1999: Bula Resources, the exploration company, has announced it is in negotiations to form a strategic partnership with Oilinvest, an oil refining and retail company which is 45 per cent owned by Libyan state entities. Bula, which is also in negotiations with the Libyan National Oil Company (NOC) to ratify exploration licence agreements, informed the stock exchange of the move yesterday, stating that the partnership's purpose would be to engage in worldwide oil exploration, development and production activities. [The Irish Times]
Wednesday: 20 October, 1999: Senior Scottish detectives have traveled to Libya for the first time in preparation for the trial of two Libyans charged in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, a police official said today. ``We can confirm that officers are in Libya carrying out inquiries as part of the investigation into Lockerbie,'' said a police spokesman on condition of anonymity. Details were not disclosed. Two Libyan agents are due to stand trial before Scottish judges sitting at a special court in The Netherlands in February. They are accused of planting a suitcase bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish village of Lockerbie, killing 270 people. To persuade Libya to turn over the suspects - Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah - Britain and the United States agreed to hold the trial at Camp Zeist, Netherlands, 30 miles southeast of Amsterdam. Under a treaty, the camp will be considered Scottish territory for the duration of the trial, which will be conducted under Scottish law. [AP]
Wednesday: 20 October, 1999: Three U.S. senators have sought assurances from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that no promises had been made to shield Libyan leaders from complicity during the Lockerbie bombing trial, according to their letter released on Wednesday. At issue is a document given to Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi last February by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that families of the victims say includes a U.S.-British pledge that ``the trial is not intended to undermine the Libyan regime.'' Annan's letter was among the last documents given to Libya before Tripoli last April handed over for trial before a Scottish Court in the Netherlands two suspects accused of planting a bomb on Pan American Flight 103 that blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland. A total of 270 people, most of them Americans, were killed in the December 1988 crash. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 20 October, 1999: Libya's peace envoy for Sudan met Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa on Tuesday ahead of a meeting of factions opposed to Khartoum's Islam-based government. Foreign ministry officials gave no details of Moussa's meeting with Suleiman al-Shahumi, who arrived in Cairo on Sunday after talks with Sudanese leaders in Khartoum. Egypt and Libya are trying to revive an initiative they launched in May to reconcile Khartoum with its foes in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and end Sudan's civil war. [Reuters]
Monday: 18 October, 1999: An envoy of Libyan Leader, Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, has delivered a message to Sudanese President Omar el Bashir on the joint endeavour by Libya and Egypt to end the war in Sudan. The envoy, Ambassador Suleiman el Shuhumi, was quoted by the official media as saying Saturday night Qadhafi's message stresses "the need to speed up effort to realise national reconciliation in Sudan." Libya and Egypt are mediating a peaceful settlement to the armed conflict in Sudan. The two countries had said they were keen to reconcile Khartoum with its adversaries in the North and South in one peace agreement. Since 1983, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has been fighting for greater autonomy for the people of Southern Sudan. In 1997, the SPLA made allies with the northern Sudanese political organisations seeking to change the Government in Khartoum. The two sides are now fighting the Khartoum government under the umbrella of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). [PANA]
Sunday: 17 October, 1999: The world's largest multinational wargames currently underway in Egypt do not target any Middle East regimes, US and Egyptian military officials said Saturday following criticism from Iraq and Libya. Although the exercises, codenamed Bright Star, follow a make-believe scenario of invasion and liberation that resembles Iraqi troops' 1990 invasion of Kuwait and their eviction the following year by a US-led coalition, the officials were quick to dismiss any possible application in Iraq. Egypt's neighbour Libya, which suffered US air strikes in 1986 in retaliation for the bombing of a West Berlin disco blamed on Tripoli, criticised Bright Star earlier this month as an excuse for "neo-colonialists" to maintain a presence in the Middle East. The Bright Star exercises, which have been building up since September, will simulate the eviction of fictional Orangeland troops from neighbouring Greenland, according to Egyptian defence documents. [AFP]
Saturday: 16 October, 1999: There were cheers, tears and the occasional burst of machine-gun fire as a jubilant crowd of 2,000 gave a hero's welcome Friday to busloads of Palestinian and Arab prisoners freed from Israeli jails. The impatient crowd crushed around the buses, pulling their loved ones to freedom through the windows as they chanted, sang nationalist songs and defied Palestinian police orders against firing their weapons in celebration. "We will free you all" and "Jerusalem must be free," they shouted as around 80 of the 151 prisoners released Friday made their long-awaited way to freedom at this Gaza Strip border checkpoint. All the freed nationals from other Arab countries released Friday were in the group of 80 here, and Palestinian sources said among them were six Egyptians and five Jordanians, the rest nationals of Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria. [AFP]

Friday: 15 October, 1999: World population growth peaked at about two percent per year in the early 1960s. Latest population figures indicate that the rate of growth has slowed to 1.33 percent annually, equivalent to 78 million people a year. Population growth is most rapid in the developing world. Thus the record population growth rate is in Gaza territory (4.6 percent per year), followed by Libya, Yemen and Niger, all between 3.4 and 3.6 percent per year. Many industrialised countries have low or even negative population growth rates (US, 0.6 percent per year; Japan 0.2 percent; European Union 0.1 percent; Russia -0.5 percent, Germany -0.1 percent, Ukraine -0.6 percent). [AFP]
Wednesday: 13 October, 1999: The Libyan military team that has been in Uganda since May has been recalled. The peace keeping contingent Sunday evening paid a courtesy call on President Yoweri Museveni to bid him farewell, a statement from State House, signed by the Presidential Press Secretary Ms Hope Kivengere said yesterday. The 35-man contingent, led by Col. Abdusalaam, has been here to supervise a cease-fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the Sirte agreement signed in Libya in April, between Museveni and President Laurent Desire Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Sunday meeting at Nakasero was also attended by the Libyan charge d'Affairs Mr. Abasi Musrati. While in Uganda, the team toured border areas between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and held a number of meetings with military and civic leaders. [PANA]
Tuesday: 12 October, 1999: Libya is regarded as the only north African country to have initiated economic exploitation of household waste into organic fertiliser with the building of five waste recycling plants in the suburbs of Tripoli, al-Beida, Benghazi, Misurata and Derna. The plants, which recycle household waste into fertilisers, are part of the country's major objective to ensure a healthy environment. The Tripoli plant recycles 500 tonnes of household waste, producing 212 tonnes of organic fertilisers daily. The waste, separated from metal, plastic and other non-biodegradable elements, is dumped into fermentation tanks with a mixture of nitrogen, air and water. The fermentation is thus facilitated into organic fertilisers using moulds and sieves. According to an official of the Tripoli plant, the processing capacity will be raised to 1,500 tonnes a day at the end of current works to extend the fermentation tanks. [PANA]
Tuesday: 12 October, 1999: France wants to improve its ties with Libya but cannot interfere with a judge's decision to prosecute its leader for his alleged role in an airliner bombing, a French minister was quoted as saying on Monday. ``The official French to start a new phase (in relations with Libya) based on a new attitude by Libyan authorities in relation to respecting international decisions,'' France's Defence Minister Alain Richard told a newspaper. He made his comments in an interview with the Saudi-owned London-based daily al-Hayat during a visit to Saudi Arabia which ended on Sunday. A French judge last week demanded that Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi be prosecuted for his alleged role in the bombing of a French airliner in 1989 which killed 170 people. The Paris state prosecutor has appealed the decision. Richard told the Arabic newspaper that the French government could not interfere in France's judicial process. [Reuters]
Tuesday: 12 October, 1999: Finalisation of a deal for the purchase of 24 Airbus Industrie planes worth $1.5 billion is linked to the removal of currently suspended U.N. sanctions imposed on Libya over the Lockerbie affair, a Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA) official said on Monday. ``The finalisation of the deal is linked to several conditions to be negotiated and it would not be concluded before the lifting of U.N. sanctions imposed on Libya,'' the official said in a telephone interview from Tripoli. ``By this, we want to make sure the planes would be delivered once ordered,'' he added. But he denied reports that the deal was off. ``The accord of principle stands. Negotiations are to be held,'' the senior official in charge of the Airbus file at LAA said. [Reuters]
Monday: 11 October, 1999: The Paris state prosecutor on Thursday appealed against a judge's decision to probe Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi for the bombing of a French airliner over Niger in 1989, judicial sources said. The appeal, which will be taken up by a court at a date to be set later, was expected to be based on the argument that Qadhafi enjoyed the immunity from prosecution traditionally granted to serving heads of state. Investigating judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who decided on Wednesday that he would probe Qadhafi on suspicion of being an accomplice to murder, ruled that French law offered no such relief. [Reuters]

Saturday: 9 October, 1999: The [American] Boeing Company has lost out to rival European aircraft consortium Airbus Industrie in a deal Libya is arranging to buy up to 24 new Airbus aircraft. Libyan officials say the sale is an effort to start up their commercial air service since sanctions were lifted earlier this year. Since then, European-related business has grown for Libya, however, the United States still maintains an embargo. [Wichita Business Journal]
Saturday: 9 October, 1999: European aircraft consortium Airbus Industrie confirmed on Friday that Libyan Arab Airlines intended to buy up to 24 new Airbus planes in a deal spurred by the lifting of sanctions on Tripoli in April. A sale of Airbus planes would be one more sign that Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's Libya is slowly being welcomed back into the international community following the country's handover earlier this year of two suspects in the 1988 PanAm airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. For Airbus, the deal would be the first outright sale of planes to Libya and represent a lucrative order which industry experts said could bring in over $1.5 billion. ``Their intention is to purchase up to 24 Airbus planes to renew their fleet,'' an Airbus spokeswoman told Reuters. [Reuters]

Friday: 8 October, 1999: Libyan Airlines has agreed to buy 24 new Airbus aircraft, Libyan television reported on Thursday. The television report, monitored in London, quoted sources at Libya's General People's Committee for Communications and Transport as saying the agreement signed with the Airbus Industrie consortium would allow the national carrier to modernise its fleet. It did not say what type of aircraft would be acquired or how much the deal was worth. An Airbus spokeswoman in Toulouse said she had no information on the report and was unable to contact company officials for comment. Some media reports have suggested as much as $9.6 billion as the cost of a total aviation package including training and airport facilities. The television quoted the sources as saying Libyan Airlines would resume international operations to Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and Africa. It did not say when. [Reuters]

Thursday: 7 October, 1999: A French judge Wednesday demanded the prosecution of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi for the 1989 bombing of a French airliner that killed 170 people, a judicial source said. A public prosecutor had called in August for the case to be dropped, saying Qadhafi enjoyed the immunity from prosecution traditionally granted to heads of state. Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere ruled that French law offered no such relief. ``There is no clause in the penal code, in international conventions or in treaties ratified by France which offers immunity to acting heads of state,'' Bruguiere wrote. A lawyer for relatives of the victims of the downed UTA airliner launched the legal action against the Libyan leader after a French court last March sentenced six Libyans, including Qadhdafi's brother-in-law, in absentia to life imprisonment. [Reuters]
Thursday: 7 October, 1999: Algerian Interior Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said Wednesday that 531 suspected Islamic militants had applied for clemency under an amnesty aimed at promoting national reconciliation. Most of the amnesty applicants are members of the Armed Islamic Group, which is suspected of carrying out many attacks against civilians as well as government targets. Some of those who have applied for clemency are foreigners, including militants from Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen as well as Europe. [AP]
Tuesday: 5 October, 1999: Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa held talks with a senior Libyan official on Monday that covered an Egyptian-Libyan peace initiative for Sudan. Ali Tureiki, a former foreign minister who is now Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's pointman for Africa, told reporters the two sides had agreed on steps to implement the initiative, which he said Sudan's government and opposition had accepted. He said contacts were under way to prepare the right atmosphere for dialogue between Khartoum and its opponents. Tureiki said Libya and Egypt urged both sides to abstain from anything likely to obstruct the peace initiative and to halt hostile media campaigns against each other. Moussa said no time should be wasted in efforts to achieve reconciliation in Sudan, where civil war has raged since 1983, whether through the Libyan-Egyptian initiative or an existing peace process sponsored by IGAD, a regional African grouping. ``The more we hurry the better,'' he declared. [Reuters]
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Comments on the "Libyan Amazigh Site"The real problem is back home

Sunday: 3 October, 1999: In the United States, jailed arms merchant Edwin P. Wilson has filed a motion to have his 1983 smuggling conviction overturned on the basis of secret CIA and Justice Department documents that show prosecutors knowingly used misleading testimony at his trial. Wilson, a former CIA agent dubbed the "merchant of death" for his arms smuggling exploits, was convicted of conspiring to sell 20 tons of high explosives to Libya after prosecutors successfully refuted defense claims that Wilson's Libyan connections provided cover for CIA operations in which he was involved. But, newly disclosed documents, obtained by Wilson's attorneys through the Freedom of Information Act and in court discovery, detail 80 contacts Wilson had with CIA officials between 1971 and 1978, in which he was asked to provide services and frequently discussed intelligence matters with senior agency officials. [The Washington Post]
Sunday: 3 October, 1999: Libya said on Thursday that failure to completely lift sanctions imposed on it by the U.N. Security Council in connection with the bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, would threaten the council's credibility. In a speech to the General Assembly, Libyan U.N. envoy Abuzed Dorda referred to the blocking by the United States in July of any move to rescind the sanctions that had only been suspended after two Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie case were handed over for trial before a Scottish court in the Netherlands. ``Preventing the Security Council from adopting a resolution, that was overdue, lifting the sanctions -- which should not have been imposed in the first place -- will threaten the credibility of the council and its ability to honour its obligations,'' Dorda said. ``It will also reinforce the impression that the Security Council does not act in compliance with the will of the majority of the United Nations member states,'' he said. ``The will of one state cannot represent the will of the entire international community,'' he added, alluding to the United States. [Reuters]
Sunday: 3 October, 1999: Two weeks of debate at the U.N. General Assembly ended Saturday with one question emerging as the most contentious: Which is more important, human rights or sovereignty? More specifically, leaders from all over the world discussed whether regional or international organizations like the U.N. should have the right to send troops or unleash bombs against a country to end genocide, ethnic cleansing and other ills - or is such intervention an unacceptable violation of sovereignty? By the time the General Assembly debate ended Saturday afternoon, many of the 144 speakers - including 36 heads of state and 19 prime ministers - had weighed in, and deep dividing lines had been drawn. While the United States, its European allies and the secretary-general argued that human rights should take precedence over sovereignty, a host of countries including China, India, Malaysia, Iraq, North Korea and Libya insisted that sovereignty remains paramount and that human rights are an internal affair. [AP]

Saturday: 2 October, 1999: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi called Thursday for Chechnya not to split off from Russia and charged that the tension in the Caucasus had been fomented by the United States. "It's not in the interest of Chechnya, Ingushetia or other republics to separate from the Russian union to become tiny republics under US domination," Colonel Qadhafi said in a speech in Sirte, quoted by the official JANA news agency. "What's going on now is a plot hatched by US intelligence so the United States can dominate this rich region," he said. The Russian Caucasus has been riven by troubles since the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991. [Reuters]
Saturday: 2 October, 1999: Libya on Thursday denied there was any evidence it played a part in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and insisted that U.N. sanctions be abolished immediately. "The Security Council had not been presented with any proof or evidence that could prove that either Libya or even the two Libyan suspects had actually committed any action which led to the Pan Am 103 crash," Libyan Ambassador Abuzed Omar Dorda told the General Assembly. While Libya pledged to cooperate with the trial of the two Libyans and compensate the victims' families if the men are convicted, the ambassador asked: "Who is going to compensate Libya, which has suffered $70 billion in damages" from sanctions?" He accused the United States of fabricating accusations that Libya supports terrorism, saying his government's support for liberation movements has been portrayed as support for terrorism by Washington and echoed by the Western media. "Libya is the victim of American terrorism, not the reverse," Dorda claimed. [AP]
Friday: 1 October, 1999: The Libyan leader, Colonel Qadhafi, has rejected reports that Libya had jailed people for political reasons. The official news agency JANA said Colonel Qadhafi challenged international human rights groups to find a single political prison in Libya. He was quoted as saying that the only people who were jailed had committed drug and smuggling offences, or had been trained by American intelligence in Afghanistan. The human rights group Amnesty International said last month that at least one-thousand political prisoners, mostly linked with banned Islamic groups, were being held in Libya. [BBC]
Friday: 1 October, 1999: An Egyptian state from one to five years in jail with hard labour on 23 people convicted of smuggling weapons from Libya, police sources said. Prosecutors in April charged 32 people with stealing arms from a Libyan military depot and smuggling them into Egypt. Three of the accused received suspended one-year sentences and six were acquitted. Four were tried in their absence. Libyan army corporal Omar al-Salmani, convicted of stealing the arms and selling them to the smugglers, was tried in Libya and hanged a few months ago, the sources said. [Reuters]
Friday: 1 October, 1999: The assistant secretary general for media affairs in the people's committee for foreign affairs and international cooperation (the Foreign Ministry) in Libya, Hasounah al-Shawesh, said on Wednesday in Tripoli that Libya has received an invitation from the European Union to take part in the next meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. He said, "Libya's participation in these meetings comes because it is an effective member in the international community on the grounds of the role it plays in the Mediterranean region and its relentless work in order to make this sea a lake of security, peace and cooperation for the countries of this region." [ArabicNews.Com]
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