News and Views

March 1997

30 March 1997: Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Wielayati is making an official visit to Libya, the official Libyan news agency JANA reported today [Sunday.] The agency said Wilayati arrived in Tripoli late Saturday, and was met by his Libyan counterpart Omar al-Mountasser and by the Iranian ambassador. Wilayati told JANA that relations between the two countries were "strong," but that they needed to be "reinforced for the good of the Iranian and Libyan people." (AFP)
29 March 1997: Libya said Saturday it has defied the UN air traffic embargo again to fly its pilgrims to Islam's holiest cites in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on board a Libyan Arab Airways plane. The official news agency JANA gave no details on the flight, which it said landed at Jeddah on the Red Sea coast near Mecca. More pilgrims are to be flown to Mecca, where this year's hajj is to take place between April 10 and 17, JANA said. It did not specify if the national carrier would be used for the other flights. (AFP and Reuters)
29 March 1997: Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has called on Arabs and Moslems to liberate Jerusalem through a holy war, the official news agency JANA reported Friday. "The time for the holy war to liberate Al-Qods (Jerusalem) has come," said al-Qadhafi late Thursday at a ceremony to mark the 27th anniversary of American and British forces leaving Libya. Al-Qadhafi's call followed a meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference's (OIC) al-Qods committee in Morocco on Thursday which urged Arab nations to close all representative offices in Israel because of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's settlement policy in Jerusalem. (AFP)
28 March 1997: A Libyan will grant 20,000 Libyan dinars ($72,600) to the family of the Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls this month, the official Libyan News Agency JANA reported. JANA said the donation was made by Mar'ee Azwai. (Reuters)
28 March 1997: Libya and Tunisia signed a contract under which Tripoli will supply Tunis with one million tonnes of crude oil and 580,000 tonnes of refined products in 1997. Libyan Energy Minister Abdullah Salem al-Badri, who attended the signing ceremony in Tunis, said the contract was worth $250 million. al-Badri also said that Libya planned to supply Tunisia with gas starting the year 2003 through a pipeline to be built. The oil deal was signed by Abdallah al-Giblaoui, head of the marketing department of state-owned Libyan National Oil Corporation, and Mohamed Moncef Boussen, President of Tunisian state-owned Entreprise Tunisienne d'Activites Petrolieres (Reuters).
28 March 1997: Libya, Egypt, Spain and Morocco will link their power grids by the end of the year in a step towards full connection between northern and southern Mediterranean countries, officials said. Energy ministers from Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, Egypt and Morocco and a Spanish representative meeting in Tunis were also told a tender would be issued by the end of 1997 to link Tunisia and Libya by the year 2000. The link would then run from Egypt to Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Spain, which is connected to the European grid. Egypt and Libya link from the Egyptian city of Salloum to the Libyan city of Tobruk would also be completed by the end of the year. (Reuters)
28 March 1997: Egypt's national carrier, EgyptAir, will start flying 11,000 pilgrims from Libya to Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Friday for the third year running, Cairo airport official said on Wednesday. The United Nations sanctions committee has authorised Egypt to fly Libyan pilgrims to the annual Moslem pilgrimage [al-Hajj] in Saudi Arabia. EgyptAir has chartered 45 flights to fly the Libyan pilgrims, Rashad Rifai, a spokesman for Cairo airport, told reporters here. "The first flight will leave from Tripoli on Friday and there will be a second one on Sunday from Benghazi airport" in eastern Libya, Rifai said, adding that 31 flights in all will leave from Tripoli and the rest from Benghazi. (AFP)
27 March 1997: An anti-tank mine exploded Tuesday on the edge of a refugee camp in no-man's land on the Libyan-Egyptian border killing a Nigerian man, police and witnesses said. Mamadou Tahiri, 38, had been living in the Palestinian tent camp since May 1996 after being denied entry to Libya to look for a job and refused access to Egypt because he did not have an entry visa, the sources said. On Tuesday Tahiri was seen running outside the camp to an area sown with mines close to the Egyptian border and before anybody could stop him Tahiri was "blown to pieces", one witness said. (AFP)
27 March 1997: Libya said on Tuesday it hoped Arab leaders would hold a summit meeting soon to coordinate their policies in the region. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met with senior Libyan envoy Colonel Mustafa al-Kharrubi and Libyan official Hassouna al-Shawamsy on Tuesday. Shawamsy told reporters after the meeting that they had discussed the need to hold a summit meeting. "Among the suggestions discussed was the necessity of holding a summit meeting and we hope an Arab summit will be held soon,'' Shawamsy said. (Reuter)
New Libyan sites: Dr. Nasr al-Anaizi's Web Tent and Shu'un Libiyah
25 March 1997: Two private Egyptian steel producers plan to file formal dumping complaints against imports from Libya, Saudi Arabia and republics of the former Soviet Union, officials and executives said on Sunday. "There have been huge imports of reinforcement steel from Libya and Saudi Arabia at cheaper prices," Ahmed Ezz, chairman of the family business Ezz Group, told Reuters in an interview Sunday.
25 March 1997: The Libyan radio reported that it was announced in Paris yesterday evening that a Libyan-French friendship society had been formed in the French Senate by a group of senators. The setting up of this society is part of the current development of Libyan Arab-French relations, particularly quite recently through the visits paid by French delegations to Libya. During these visits, the strengthening of relations and the opening up of new fields of cooperation between the two countries were discussed.
25 March 1997: An Egyptian merchant ship with a crew of 12 has gone missing in the Mediterranean on a voyage from Alexandria to the port of Trapani in western Sicily, Egyptian foreign ministry officials said on Sunday. Egypt has asked the Libyan authorities to launch a thorough search of the Libyan coast after failed attempts to locate the ship, the Samir, in the open sea, they added. (Reuters)
25 March 1997: Libyan news agency JANA reported that an official source at the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation commented on the statement of the American delegate to the UN Security Council on the unjust measures imposed on Libya. The source added: The American delegate said that Libya did not pay compensation to the victims families as if he passed a premature judgment condemning Libya before trying it. The American delegate claimed that Libya did not cut off its links with supporting terrorism. This is a persistent claim by the American administration. Libya has already requested the Security Council to send in an international commission to verify the non-existence of any camps suspected of having links with terrorism. Libya has condemned terrorism on many occasions, including state official terrorism which has been practised by the American administration against us. Libya demanded the holding of an international conference to deal with the phenomenon of terrorism in general. The official Libyan source added.
25 March 1997: Commenting on the United States use of the veto for the second time in two weeks against the draft presented by Egypt to the UN Security Council, the Arab affairs editor at the Libyan news agency JANA said that the USA has once again scorned the Arabs, that it did not give any weight to Arab rights, that it was completely partial to the Israeli enemy and it backed its expansionist plans aimed at dominating Arab land. The editor said that by agreeing to this, the USA continues to humiliate the Arab nation again and again and works continuously to give the Israeli enemy the possibility to root itself deeply in the Arab land and to tear it apart from within so that Israel can dominate it.
23 March 1997: Wherever you are, you might be a face in the crowd, but a different face, a face from the faces of our culture. Please click here to view faces of our culture.
23 March 1997: Libya urged oil producers to present a united opposition to what it called punitive environment-related legislation and tax policies being adopted in some industrial countries. Libya's OPEC governor Ali al-Fituri was addressing the Offshore Mediterranean Conference, reading a speech by Libyan energy minister Abdullah Salem al-Badri who was unable to attend. "Oil is already heavily taxed and we in OPEC believe that the proposed tax is but another form of excise tax intended to raise government receipts from oil which, in many countries including Italy, are already more than three times the petroleum export revenues of the oil producing developing countries," al-Fituri said. Libya is the largest offshore oil producer in the Mediterranean with current output of 53,000 barrels per day. (Reuters)
20 March 1997: News reports say that American intelligence agencies have detected no resumption of construction at a suspected chemical weapons plant in Libya, a facility the United States threatened to destroy with a nuclear attack if necessary. The American Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Director John Holum says U.S. intelligence agencies, which primarily rely on satellite reconnaissance and close scrutiny of shipping records for items that might contribute to a chemical arms program, have found nothing indicating renewed activity at the site. Holum tells reporters, "Our latest reports are that construction has halted at that plant.'' Also, an envoy from Egypt inspected the Libyan chemical site last year and said he found no evidence to refute Libyan claims they were building a fertilizer factory. (UPI)
20 March 1997: French anti-terror magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere has almost completed his investigation into a 1989 airliner bombing believed to have been carried out by Libyan agents, French judicial sources said on Wednesday. He has issued international arrest warrants for six Libyan agents, including Abdallah al-Senoussi, brother-in-law of Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Others allegedly involved were Abdallah al-Azragh, Ibrahim al-Naeli, Musbah Arbas (said by Tripoli to be dead,) Abdessalam Issa al-Shibani and Abdessalam Hammouda. (AFP)
19 March 1997: Tunisian Prime Minister Hamed Karoui met on Tuesday in Tunisia with Libyan Public Order Minister Mohamed al-Higazi for security talks, officials said. "We reviewed the privileged relations between Tunisia and Libya and prospects to boost bilateral cooperation in all areas,'' Higazi told reporters after the meeting. Higazi on Monday co-chaired with his Tunisian counterpart Mohamed Ben Rejeb a meeting of the joint security committee between the two countries. (Reuters)
19 March 1997: Algeria, through its official news agency APS, accused Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi of an approach to Arab unity that undermines regional stability. "The Libyan leader, by declaring casually he no longer recognises the border between Algeria and Libya, does not serve at all the objective of union...and is part of a logic laden with danger for stability of the region's countries,'' said APS in a Monday commentary seen as reflecting the government view. al-Qadhafi called last weekend on Libyans to start marchs this year on Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan and Algeria to impose a merger. (Reuters and al-Sharq al-Awsat [19 March 07]) For more details (in Arabic) please click here
18 March 1997: Away from politics, it is nice from time to time to look back, way back and to look forward to the future. Please click here to view the past and the future.
18 March 1997: A Libyan viewer writes: "I want to inform you of my deepest concern about the recent law of collective punishment approved by the Libyan General People's Congress (LGPC) on Sunday March 9, 1997. This law is designed to punish relatives of those opposing the oppressive Quaddafi regime. I am horrified of what could happen to my brothers & sisters in Libya if the Quaddafi regime found out about my activities in the USA. These practices are not new to the Libyan regime, for years Quaddafi & his henchmen have been perpetrating the most vicious crimes against innocent & defensless Libyans. I urge your organization to denounce the Libyan government for passing such a law. "
18 March 1997: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi warned on Sunday night that political systems based on religion were dangerous, particularly for women, a Libyan television report said. In a speech in Sabha to mark a declaration of the rights and obligations of women in Libya, al-Qadhafi said the recent experience of rule by the fundamentalist Taleban movement in Afghanistan showed that the first victims of religious-based rule were women. "Any political system which is based on religion, or has justified being in power with religion, is one of the most dangerous systems for women's freedom," the Libyan leader said. He accused fundamentalist groups of being bankrupt and of wanting only to control the masses, saying that they used religion to achieve this because religion could not be debated or opposed. "This is the worst exploitation of religion. These systems which are based on religion are the most dangerous of systems and the most atheistic, hypocritical and bankrupt from the economic, political and scientific point of view," al-Qadhafi said. (AFP)
18 March 1997: The Libyan central bank has no plans to devaluate the dinar currency, the official Libyan news agency JANA reported. "An official source at the Central Bank of Libya said that Libya does not intend to devaluate the Libyan dinar," JANA said. "The source added that recent reports by some world media that the Central Bank intends to make this devaluation were untrue," the agency added. Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi said earlier this month the Libyan dinar was overvalued against the dollar and suggested Libyans travelling abroad buy dollars at the black market rate. The official rate for the dollar is one for 0.363 dinar. al-Qaddafi said the dollar was worth one for every three dinars on the black market. (Reuter)
18 March 1997: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi called on Libyans to march in favour of a unified state that would comprise the territories of Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan and Libya, the official Libyan news agency JANA reported on Sunday. The Libyan leader was talking at a rally in the southern Libyan city of Sebha where 20 years ago he proclamed the "power of the masses" or "al-Jamahiriya." (Reuters)
16 March 1997: In a speech marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of "al-Jamahiriya", Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi Saturday condemned the slaying of seven Israeli schoolgirls by a Jordanian soldier but said it was the result of Israel's "occupation" of Jordanian territory. "We are against the murder of innocent civilians and children," he said. "The Jordanian soldier is not crazy. It is the Israeli occupation of his territory that explains his madness," al-Qadhafi said. "His folly is explained by his frustration at not being able to recuperate the ground that Israelis walk on." (AFP)
16 March 1997: Libya slammed the United States on Saturday for the extension of UN sanctions, saying the move was the result of pressure by Washington. "America has once again clearly shown its defiance of the international community, as represented by regional and global organizations which have announced their support for Libya," the official Libyan JANA news agency said. It called upon the supporters of the lifting of the sanctions "to adopt positions which would ensure that their will is respected." The UN Security Council on Friday maintained sanctions against Libya. The Cairo-based Arab League also condemned the Security Council's renewal of sanctions. "The Arab League deplores the Security Council resolution, which has not taken into consideration the positive developments in this affair," League deputy secretary general Ahmad ibn Helli said. The sanctions are aimed at pressuring Libya to hand over two suspects in the downing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie and to cooperate fully in the investigation into the downing of a French UTA jetliner over Niger in 1989. (AFP)
15 March 1997: Libyan Foreign Minister Omar al-Muntasser will visit Egypt and Sudan next week to meet with Foreign Ministers of the two countries in order to settle the differences between the two Arab neighbours. (al-Ittihad al-Osbou'i.) For more details (in Arabic) please click here
15 March 1997: The United Nations Security Council on Friday maintained sanctions on Libya in connection with two terrorist attacks on civilian airliners while France said it would try Libyan suspects in absentia. Libya has been under UN sanctions for more than four years, including a resolution that imposes an air embargo and an arms embargo against the country. The sanctions are aimed at pressuring Tripoli to hand over two suspects in the downing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 that caused 270 deaths, and to cooperate in full in the investigation into the downing of a French UTA jetliner over Africa in 1989 that killed 170. UN Security Council president Zbigniew Wlosowicz of Poland said there was no consensus among the members to relax the sanctions. The embargo will stay "as long as necessary" until Libya meets international demands and stops "breaking the sanctions," US ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson said. The review by the Security Council takes place every 120 days. Libyan leader Mu'ammer al-Qadhafi has argued that his government has cooperated with the French and does not have suspects identified in the Pan Am bombing. France is now ready to try the Libyan suspects in the UTA disaster, French delegate Herve Ladsous told the closed-door council session. He said the French investigation had ended and should lead to "a trial in absentia" of Libyan suspects. Libyan secret service operatives are suspected in the 1989 mid-air explosion over Niger. French judge Jean-Louis Brugiere, leading the probe, had visited Libya in July and concluded that although Libyan authorities had not fully cooperated, they had nonetheless enabled "significant progress" to be made in the investigation and a trial in absentia of six Libyan suspects would take place in France, Ladsous added. Recently the Organisation of African Unity and the Arab League have stepped up pressure for the reconsideration of santions against Libya which they say hurt ordinary people. They favour trial of the two Lockerbie suspects in a third country chosen by the United Nations or in The Hague. (AFP)
13 March 1997: Last Tuesday [11 March 1997] I reported that Braik Swaisi, the spokesman for the opposition Libyan Movement for Change and Reform "al-Haraka al-Libiya lil-Taghyeer wal-Islah" told al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper [11 March 1997] that ".... al-Qadhafi has been punishing opposition leaders families for long time."
What Braik Swaisi actually said is that " .... al-Qadhafi has been punishing opposition activists families for long time."
12 March 1997: The opposition National Front for the Salvation of Libya "al-Jabha al-Wataniyah li-Inqath Libya" told al-Hayat newspaper today that the new Libyan government and the decisions made by the General Peoples' Congress will not lead to any positive changes as long as Libya remains without constitution and without constitutional institutions. The NFSL said Libyans have no freedoms and have no free forums to express their opinions. The NFSL told al-Hayat that the new law of collective punishment disappointed those who thought that there will be major and positive changes in Libya following the General People's Congress convention last week.
11 March 1997: Commenting on the Libyan General People's Congress approval Sunday of a collective punishment law under which a criminal's family or tribe, or a local assembly or other religious or social group could be stripped of its civil rights and social services for not denouncing a member's activities which are banned under this law, Braik Swaisi [pictured], the spokesman for the Libyan opposition Movement for Change and Reform, told al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper today that punishing anti-government activists families is not a new practice by the the Libyan authorities. Swaisi said that al-Qadhafi has been punishing opposition leaders families for long time. On the other hand a Libyan official told al-Sharq al-Awsat that the new measures are necessary to hold families and tribes responsible for what their members commit against society. For more details (in Arabic) please click here
11 March 1997: The new Libyan government:
- Leader of the Revolution, De facto Head of State...............Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi
- Second-in-command (no formal title)......................................Maj. Abdel-Salam Jalloud
General Provisional Committee for Defence:
- Col. Abu Bakr Younis Jaber, Col. Mustafa al-Kharroubi and Maj. Khoueldi al-Hmaidi
General Popular Committee (Cabinet):
- Secretary (Prime Minister)...Abdelmajid al-Gu'ud
Secretaries (Ministers):
- Agriculture......Ali Ben Ramadan
- Animal Resources..............Messaoud Abou Asso'ud
- Communications & Transport.........Ezzedin Mohamed el-Hinshiri
- Education & Scientific Research..........Mehdi Meftah Embairish
- Energy...Abdullah Salem al-Badri
- Finances.....Mohamed Beit al-Mal
- Foreign Liaison & International Cooperation........Omar Mustafa al-Muntassir
- Great Man-made River Project..........Jadallah Azzouz el-Talhi
- Health & Social Security............Soliman al-Ghemari
- Industry & Mining..Muftah Azouzah
- Information, Culture & Justice....Mohamed Belgacem al-Zwai
- Maritime Resources.....Bashir Ramadhan Boujenah
- Planning, Economy & Trade...Abdel Hafidh Zleetni
- Popular Mobilisation.....Fawzia Bashir Shalabi
- Public Order...Mohamed al-Higazi
- Public Works & Housing.............Mubarak Abdallah al-Shamikh
- Tourism...........Boukhari Hawda
- Training & Labour Force.Maatouq Mohamed Maatouq
- Unity Affairs...Jomaa al-Fazzani
- Youth & Sports........Ali al-Sha'ari
General Secretariat of the General Prople's Congress (Parliment):
- Secretary (Speaker).......Zenati Mohamed Zenati
- Central Bank Governor..............Tahar al-Jhaimi
- Secretary for Supervision of Public Accounting (non-cabinet minister).......Nouri Sbaq
11 March 1997: The Vatican said Monday it was establishing diplomatic ties with Libya in recognition of "positive results in the field of religious freedoms" there and to "boost international dialogue." Pope John Paul II appointed Jose Sebastian Laboa, currently the Papal Nuncio to Malta, as his new envoy to Tripoli. He also named Father Sylvester Carmel Magro as vicar apostolic to Benghazi, in northeastern Libya. Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro Valls said that a visit to Libya in March 1994 by Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, who is in charge of the Holy See's foreign affairs, the setting up of a joint committee for religious freedom and the freedom of the Catholic Church in Libya, and a visit to the Vatican by official Libyan delegations had all helped "improve mutual relations." (AFP)
11 March 1997: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said the Libyan dinar was overvalued and suggested that Libyans travelling abroad buy dollars at the black market rate. "Under economic criteria, it is not logical for the dinar's price to continue to be three dollars," Al-Qadhafi told Libya's General People's Congress (parliament) on Saturday night. Libya's official rate for the dollar is 0.363 dinar. Al-Qadhafi, whose speech was broadcast by Libyan television, said the dollar was worth three dinars on the black market and suggested that this rate be applied for some of foreign exchange transactions. Commenting on the Congress's call for the central bank to authorise the sale of foreign exchange to travellers suspended years ago, al-Qadhafi said: "All the people are pressing for touristic allocations. Fine, let's try...You will pay three dinars for one dollar." (Reuters)
10 March 1997: The Libyan General People's Congress approved Sunday a collective punishment law for accomplices to crimes of subversion, armed violence and religious deviance. At the end of its meeting in the town of Sirte, the GPC promulgated a "charter of honor" against accomplices of what it called "a violation of national unanimity and a betrayal of the people's power." Under the decree, a criminal's family or tribe, or a local assembly or other religious or social group could be stripped of its civil rights and social services for not denouncing a member's activities which are banned under this law. The code provides for collective punishments for "acts of subversion, violence, tribal fanaticism, possession of weapons and their forcible theft, armed terrorist groups, drug traffickers and accomplices of criminals and apostates," the Libyan term for fundamentalist activists. Anyone linked to such crimes will be deprived of the right to participate in the local assemblies, and of public services such as electricity, water and telephone in addition to other state social and financial benefits. Such measures will also be applied to any local assembly which "collaborates with criminals of such offenses or cover up for them." The local assemblies are the lowest-level political organizations in Libya. Since June 1995, there have been several clashes between Moslem militants and the police, especially in the northeastern city of Benghazi. (AFP)
10 March 1997: The Libyan General People's Congress announced Sunday a partial cabinet reshuffle in which two ministries were split up and two ministers replaced, officials said. At a meeting in the northern town of Sirte, the GPC agreed to divide into three the super ministry of education, research, youth and vocational training, headed by Maatuk Mohammed Maatuk. However, he will remain in charge of vocational training and labor. Ali al-Shaeri, deputy speaker of parliament, will preside over the youth and sports ministry. The new ministry of education and scientific research will be headed by Mehdi Meftah Embairesh, who is taking up his first government post. The ministry of justice and general security is being divided in two. Mohammed Hijazi, the former justice and general security minister, has been given the general security portfolio, while Mohammed Belgacem Azwaiyi, a former Libyan ambassador to the United Nations, will run the justice ministry. Health and Social Security Minister Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi has quit and been replaced by Suleiman al-Ghamari. The general inspection minister, Mahmud Badi, has been replaced by Nur Spag Hamad. The foreign affairs, defense and interior ministries have not been affected by the changes, the officials said. (AFP and al-Sharq al-Awsat)
For more details (in Arabic) please click here
9 March 1997: The Libyan General People's Congress [Mu'tamar al-Sha'ab al-a'm,] meeting in Sirte, urged world states to ignore U.N. sanctions imposed on Libya for its refusal to hand over the two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo-jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people were killed. "Libya does not object to have the two suspects stand for trial before a just and fair court in a neutral country to be agreed on,'' the congress said in a resolution issued at its annual meeting broadcast live by the Libyan television. It urged other countries not to be bound by "unjust measures imposed on Libya'' and said each country's attitude to the sanctions would affect future political and economic ties with Libya. "The first step would be the exchange of air flights,'' it said. Washington and London insist the trial must be in the United States or Britain. (Reuters)
9 March 1997: The Libyan official news agency JANA commented on the United States use of its veto against the European group resolution against Israel by saying "this shows that the United Nations Security Council lost its effectiveness and credibility." JANA said that the UN is no longer representing world nations and it does not serve the purpose that it was created for any more. (al-Hayat and France Press)
9 March 1997: Al-Hayat newspaper reported that the Libyan opposition movement "Harakat al-Shuhada'a al-Islamiyah" leader [Abou Tariq al-Dernawi] was replaced by a new leader nick named "Khaleefa." The movement sources told al-Hayat that some of its members attacked some security posts in Benghazi late February where they killed number of security officers while eight of the attackers were captured by Libyan authorities. For more details (in Arabic) please click here
7 March 1997: Libya is seeking foreign developers to help exploit its large-scale iron ore reserves in the southern region of the country to feed its steel mill complex, Libyan industry officials said. "We call on interested foreign firms to enter into partnership with us to develop the Wadi Shatti iron ore," Mustafa Said, Technical Director of Libyan Iron and Steel Company (LISC) told Reuters during a visit to the giant manufacturing complex in Misrata, 210 km east of Tripoli. "It is time for us to use our raw minerals. The (foreign) firms are called to extract them," Said added. He said LISC currently runs on imported iron ore from Brazil and Sweden. Said would not disclose the Wadi Shatti reserves. But European diplomats in Tripoli told Reuters it has an estimated two to three billion tonnes of reserves ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent iron content. The mine is in the Libyan desert, some 750 km from the coastal city of Misrata. Said was talking a few hours before Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi called on Monday night for the privatisation of state-owned industrial firms, including LISC. (Reuters)
7 March 1997: Libyan television on Tuesday had live coverage from the Wafa Hall in Sirte of the start of the General People's Congress. The session opened with Koranic verses followed by the national anthem. An announcement was made that the issues on the agenda, which were proposed by the Basic People's Congresses, were to be divided among five committees which would formulate draft final resolutions. After half an hour, the Speaker announced that the delegates would like leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi to continue his tradition and to come to address the GPC at some point during its session. The session thereupon adjourned for several hours while the five committees retired for further considerations on the agenda behind closed doors.
7 March 1997: Nigerian TV reported that the Nigerian minister of foreign affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi, has commended the resilience of the Libyan people in braving the challenges of unjust sanctions imposed on them by the United Nations Security Council. Chief Ikimi, who was head of Nigeria's delegation to the 65th ordinary session of the Organization for African Unity Council of Ministers in Tripoli, Libya, condemned acts of terrorism, but criticized the undue haste by the United States, Britain and France to blame Libya for the Lockerbie plane disaster. He said Africa stands united in its call on the United Nations Security Council for the early lifting of the sanctions on Libya.
6 March 1997: Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said he is originally Mauritanian. Al-Qadhafi's represetative to Mauritania said that Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi originally from "Shanqeet" the old name of Mauritania. This announcement came while Libya and Mauritania are trying to ease tension between the two nations. Mauritanian and Libyan officials agreed to ease tension between their two countries at high-level talks in Tunis over the weekend, Diplomatic sources said on Tuesday. The reconcilation came a a result of a mediation by Tunisian President Zaine al-Abidine during a visit at the start of March by Mauritanian President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, diplomats said. The sources said Ibrahim al-Bishari, head of the office of Libyan leader and Sidi Ould Khalifa, Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, met on Sunday in the presence of Tunisian Foreign Affairs Minister Abderrahim Zouari. (al-Sharq al-Awsat [6 March 97] and Reuters.) For more details (in Arabic) please click here
4 March 1997: Libyan radio reported that the council of foreign ministers of the Organization for African Unity calls on the United Nations Security Council to lift the unjust sanctions imposed on Libya since April 1992.
4 March 1997: The Jordanian weekly "Al-Hadath" reported that The curtain has gone down on the drama of the Palestinians who were deported from Libya and stranded for some time on the Libyan-Egyptian border. The deportees are said to have agreed to return for a sojourn in Tripoli until such time as circumstances favour their return to Palestine. According to press reports, they had sent a message to Col Mu' ammar al-Qadhafi applauding his nationalist role and support for the Palestinian cause. Arab League Secretary-General Ismat Abd al-Majid recently intervened with the Libyan authorities to close the file on the deportees issue.
4 March 1997: Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi called for the privatisation of state-owned industrial firms, including the giant Libyan Company for Iron and Steel. "Make the Libyans own all plants. Who told you that ownership was banned?" al-Qadhafi said on Sunday night on the 20th anniversary of the introduction of a system of rule by the masses, or "Jamahiriya". This change considerably limited the role of the private sector in Libya. "I do not agree for one person to own a plant...but agree for a group of Libyans to own the shares of a company," Al-Qadhafi told a rally attended by thousands of his followers in the coastal city of Misrata, 210 km (125 miles) east of Tripoli. A former governor of the Libyan Central Bank, who was at the rally, told Reuters: "Yes, this means privatisation and that Libyans will be enabled to own these companies' shares." Al-Qadhafi said the firms to be privatised would include the giant Libyan Company for Iron and Steel based at Misrata, the country's cement works, vehicle assembly plants and manufacturers of furniture. He added that the move would enable better management of the firms and improve their production. Misrata's iron and steel giant has a production capacity of 1.3 million tonnes of liquid steel. It was constructed by several foreign firms including Germany's Krupp Hoesch Stahl AG, Austria's Voest-Alpine, Kobe Steel Ltd of Japan, Hyundai Corp of Korea, and Italy's Techint. It started production in 1988 and uses the country's cheap gas resources for power generation.
4 March 1997: African foreign ministers urged the U.N. Security Council to accept a compromise with Libya in the Lockerbie affair and said the African Summit to be held next June would look at ways to bypass sanctions imposed on Tripoli in 1992. "The Council (of African ministers) strongly recommend that the Security Council consider the ways and means for a rapid resolution of the crisis," they said in a declaration adopted at the end of a three-day annual conference in Tripoli on Friday night. "(The) Council wishes to reiterate its position expressed at its 64th ordinary session in Yaouande from 1-6 July 1996 to the effect that continued imposition of sanctions might lead African countries to devise other means of sparing the Libyan people future suffering," they said. "In this respect, the Council mandates the Secretary-General of the OAU to prepare a practical plan of action to be considered for implementation" at the next OAU ummit in Harare, Zimbabwe, next June. (Reuters)
3 March 1997: The Libyan General People's Congress "Mu'tamar al-Sha'ab al-'Am" will convene this week where it is expected to make some changes in Libya's policies in and out side Libya as it celebrates the 20th anniversary of Col. Mu'ammar al-Ghaddafi's Jamahiriya declaration. A Libyan official told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper [2 March 1997] that some Ministers might lose their posts. New faces might enter the Libyan politics erena, one of those who might be given some authority is Maj. Abdussalam Jalloud who has not been participating in Libyan affairs for the last four years.
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1 March 1997: Algerian Foreign Minister said that relations between Libya and Algeria are very strong and thay were not affected by Libya's offer to intermediate between Algeria and the banned Algerian Islamic Salvation Front. Ahmed Attaf said that Algeria does not deal with other governments through media but through diplomatic channels. The Algerian Foreign Minister is in Tripoli attending the Organization for African Unity convention. (Asharq al-Awsat - 1 March 97.) For more details (in Arabic) please click here
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