News and Views

November 1998

Monday: 30 November, 1998: Libya expressed "surprise'' on Sunday at not being invited to a Franco-African summit, but said it would have declined anyway. The 50-nation summit, which ended in Paris on Saturday, focused largely on ways to end the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "Libya is surprised at not being invited even though it is an important African state and pays great attention to the African continent's affairs,'' Libyan state radio, monitored in Tunis, quoted a Libyan foreign ministry source as saying. Even if it had been invited, Libya "would have declined because it did not believe in dependency on old colonial powers,'' the radio added. [Reuters]

Saturday: 28 November, 1998: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has protested about being left out of the French-African summit that opened Friday in Paris. Egypt's Middle East News Agency quoted Libya's ambassador to France as saying the complaint was made in a letter al-Qadhafi sent to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is attending the conference. Al-Qadhafi and Mubarak have a good relationship and Egypt has in the past supported Libya's participation in international meetings. "This summit cannot discuss security in Africa without Libya and Sudan's participation,'' the Libyan ambassador, Ali al-Traiki, quoted al-Qadhafi's letter as saying. [AP]
Saturday: 28 November, 1998: About 200 Moroccan politicians, human rights activists and intellectuals headed for Tripoli on Friday in a show of solidarity for Libyans who are under an economic United Nations embargo, a lawyer representing the group said. "It is a visit of protest and we want to attract the attention of the world community to the unjust embargo imposed on the Libyan people since 1992,'' Mohamed Ziyane, a former human rights minister, told Reuters before joining the group on a flight to Tunis. "It is unacceptable that the U.N. imposes an embargo on six million people because two Libyans are suspected in a terrorist attack,'' Ziyane said. [Reuters]
Thursday: 26 November, 1998: Libya broadcast more film and details Wednesday of what it said was a British-backed assassination attempt against Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in 1996. Libyan state-run television, monitored in Tunis, quoted security sources as saying the attempt was funded by a British intelligence service. Britain has denied plotting to kill al-Qadhafi. The television said the mastermind was Abu Abdallah Assadek, an Arab [Libyan leader of al-Jama'a al-Islamiyah al-Muqatilah] who lived in Britain and was a British secret agent.
Assadek recruited a man called Abdallah Radwan, who threw a hand grenade at al-Qadhafi at a rally in Wadi Achatt in southern Libya, the television said. [Reuters]
Thursday: 26 November, 1998: Three top Libyan officials have been tried and jailed in the 1988 Pan Am bombing, newspapers reported today. Libyan dissidents said the reports appear to be a political ploy by Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. An Egyptian source, who like Libyan sources spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said he had heard nothing about any such trials during meetings with leading officials on a just-ended trip to the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
Two London newspapers, The Guardian and the leading Arabic daily Al-Hayat, reported Wednesday that three top intelligence chiefs at the time of the airliner bombing had been convicted and imprisoned in Libya. The Guardian said Abdullah al-Senussi, Musa Koussa and Mohammed al-Misrati were sentenced to between five and seven years in prison earlier this month. [AP]
Thursday: 26 November, 1998: The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday he might meet Libyan officials to try to resolve the issue of bringing to trial two Libyan suspects in the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing. Annan is due to visit North Africa next week and he told reporters: ``The question has been raised if it will be helpful for me to go down there (to Libya) and bring the issue finally to closure. I have not made up my mind yet, but it is not excluded,'' he said. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 25 November, 1998: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has agreed to co-ordinate mediation between opposing sides in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ziana news agency reported on Monday. Zimbabwe deputy foreign affairs minister Nicholas Goche on Monday said al-Qadhafi had agreed to a request by several African countries, including Uganda and Zimbabwe - major players on opposing sides of the conflict. Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, supporting Tutsi rebels, was among five heads of states who attended a mini-summit in Libya in September which requested that al-Qadhafi used his friendship with leaders on both sides to bring a negotiated end to the war.
[ANC News]
Sunday: 22 November, 1998: Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe arrived in Libya on Saturday for talks with Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on the fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Libyan state television quoted Mugabe, on his second visit this year, as saying after landing at the coastal town of Sirte that he would discuss the Congo issue with al-Qadhafi. [Reuters]
Sunday: 22 November, 1998: Chad and Libya signed an agreement on Saturday to curb illegal migration between the two countries, officials said. The deal, signed by Chad's interior minister and Libya's public security secretary-general, envisages a census of all Chadians living in Libya. Officials declined to comment on the reasons for the move. [Reuters]
Friday: 20 November, 1998: Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi on Tuesday said that Libya's affiliation with the Arab world has "damaged" his country and described Arab unity as "mirage." In an interview with al-Jazira TV of Qatar, al-Qadhafi defended his African affiliation noting that "Arab unity is a mirage." He added that "we have tried for forty years [!] behind a mirage and Arab nationalism does not exist." "belonging to the Arab homeland did no good to Libya." He said. []

Thursday: 19 November, 1998: Libya is still adamant that sentences for two suspects, if convicted in the 1988 mid-air bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, cannot be served in Britain, as London and Washington insist, diplomats said on Wednesday. A team of Libyan lawyers left New York over the weekend after their second round of talks, which began on November 9, and may return again in the next few weeks. They are consulting with senior U.N. legal officials, who field queries to the United States and Britain. However, the diplomats said no headway had been made in Libya's demand that the two accused, if convicted, be imprisoned in the Netherlands, rather than in the Scottish prison at Barlinnie, a position the United States and Britain say is not negotiable. [Reuters]
Thursday: 19 November, 1998: Britain said on Wednesday it would not wait indefinitely for Libya to reply to its proposals for the trial of two men accused of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing. But Foreign Office minister Tony Lloyd told parliament that Tripoli had not been given a deadline for its response to London's suggestion of a trial in the Netherlands for the pair, accused of planting the bomb that exploded aboard a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.
Lloyd was speaking in a debate initiated by Conservative Sir Teddy Taylor, who said reports from the United States suggested Washington wanted Libya to respond to the plan by December 21, the 10th anniversary of the bombing. [Reuters]

Tuesday: 17 November, 1998: British Scotland Yard has relaunched its investigation into the murder of the policewoman Yvonne Fletcher after the maverick back-bencher Tam Dalyell raised the matter in the House of Commons.
Last night, a police spokesman confirmed that new evidence about the identity of WPC Fletcher's alleged killer had come to light. WPC Fletcher, 25, was killed in a burst of automatic gunfire while on crowd control duty at a protest against Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, outside the Libyan Embassy in St James's Square, London, in 1984 [see photo.] Mr Dalyell said: "Until about two years ago I assumed there was no doubt that the Libyans were responsible for that dreadful deed ; but a film showed that the bullets which killed WPC Fletcher could not have come from the second floor of the Libyan Embassy, but from another angle - namely, the sixth floor of a building at right angles to the Libyan embassy, which was temporarily occupied by the American intelligence services." [The Scotsman]
Friday: 13 November, 1998: Libya and Egypt are considering a swap deal under which Libya would supply Egypt with 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in return for 500 million cubic feet of Egyptian gas, delegates told a gas conference. Michael Shelton, commercial manager of British Gas International Egypt, said the Egyptian government had held preliminary swap talks with Libya for the export of gas from Egypt's western desert gas fields to the Libyan border. In return, Libya would supply 150,000 bpd of crude oil to be processed at Egypt's Alexandria refinery with products to be marketed locally. [Reuters]
Wednesday: 11 November, 1998: The Sunday Times daily quoted the British Foreign secretary Robin Cook as saying "there are possibilities that the two suspected Libyans will be brought to the court in the Hague in Holland before the end of this year, thereby ending 10 years of waiting." Cook added he is encouraged by Libya's seriousness in dealing with the British proposals. He added he is impressed by the recent Libyan decision to form a team of senior Libyan lawyers to defend the two Libyans. The team will be chaired by former secretary of the Libyan foreign ministry. []
Wednesday: 11 November, 1998: Libya plans to donate $800,000 to the new administration for the Somali capital Mogadishu set up by rival faction leaders in August, the Libyan Ambassador to Somalia Ma'tuq Mohamed Al-Zubaydi said on Tuesday. Rival faction leaders Mohamed Hussein Aideed, Ali Mahdi Mohammad and Mohamed Qanyare Afrah in August signed an agreement creating a joint administration for Mogadishu which aimed to reopen city's air and seaports. These are still not functioning. Aideed has blamed the situation on lack of funds. [Reuters]

Tuesday: 10 November, 1998: A team of Libyan lawyers has arrived at the United Nations in New York, for further discussion on Tripoli's surrender of two suspects, accused of bombing an American airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie ten years ago. Libya is trying to secure a deal that will allow the suspects, if found guilty, to serve their sentences in Tripoli or the Netherlands. Britain and the United States are insisting that the two men should be jailed in Scotland, the scene of the attack. They've all agreed the trial can be held in Holland. Libya is also demanding that economic sanctions imposed against it after the bombing should be lifted once the two men are handed over. [BBC]
Monday: 9 November, 1998: A team of Libyan lawyers resumes negotiations with the United Nations on Monday in what could be the last round of talks before the United States and Britain consider withdrawing their offer to hold the Lockerbie bombing trial in the Netherlands. Libya, according to U.N. officials, will send the same team of top-flight lawyers to talk to Hans Corell, the chief U.N. legal counsel, as they did for two weeks last month. Corell's staff conveys queries to the United States and Britain and receives their replies. [Reuters]
Sunday: 8 November, 1998: Yugoslavia has offered arms and military equipment as partial payment for recently agreed Libyan crude oil imports, a source close to the government told Reuters on Friday. Yugoslavia and Libya signed a deal at the end of October for delivery of 500,000 tonnes of Libyan crude by the end of the year. A further 1.5 million tonnes were planned for 1999. ``Besides agricultural and industrial products, construction works and services as means of payment, we have also offered an entire range of our light and heavy weapons,'' said the source, who asked not to be named. [Reuters]

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Thursday: 5 November, 1998: An International Monetary Fund mission will leave soon for Libya, a top IMF official said in remarks published on Wednesday. Paul Chabrier, the IMF's Middle East Director, told the London-based Arabic language daily al-Hayat that the country does not need loans but could benefit from IMF help in building a statistical base in order to adopt sound economic policies. ``I see encouraging signs for a substantial improvement in Libya's foreseen economic future,'' he added. [Reuters]
Thursday: 5 November, 1998: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has branded as ``illegal'' a Security Council decision last week to extend sanctions against Tripoli over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and renewed his threat to quit the United Nations. In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to the Security Council's current chairman, al-Qadhafi said the Security Council had no right to extend sanctions against Libya for another four months. ``We want to warn that if the Security Council continued to...challenge the ICJ's ruling...Libya will seriously consider quitting the U.N...,'' al-Qadhafi said. [Reuters]

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