David Cameron is to host his Libyan counterpart for talks in 10 Downing Street, it has been announced.
People in Libya's second largest city Benghazi are casting their ballots in local elections. Voters are choosing 41 city councillors. And given that Benghazi was the birthplace of the revolution in Libya, the poll is taking on wider significance. Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh reports from Benghazi.
Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO) has declared that the level of its production is back to the pre-uprisings levels.
Libya's prosecutor office is probing possible irregularities in crude sales to oil giants China International United Petroleum & Chemical Co. (0386.HK), or Unipec, and PetroChina Co. Ltd. (0857.HK) as part of a broader probe into Gadhafi-era oil deals, a file from Libya's Interpol bureau shows.
A file issued last month, attached to a request of arrest against the late ex-oil chief Shokri Ghanem by Libya's Interpol bureau, alleges he agreed to sell oil without contracts to Sinopec and Petrochina. The probe could cloud the return of energy-thirsty China to Libya after being cast as a supporter of the former regime. Ghanem, the ex-head of the National Oil Co., "also delivered quantities of crude oil to several companies such as Unipec and PetroChina before signing an agreement with them," the file seen by Dow Jones said. Sinopec and PetroChina spokespeople declined to comment. Though Ghanem has since died in Vienna's Danube river in mysterious circumstances, the probe into his dealings continues, said Abdulhamid Eljadi, an anticorruption activist who has been assisting the investigation. The rebels who fought former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi last year had previously said Chinese companies would be at a disadvantage for opposing the foreign intervention which led to them gaining power. However, Unipec, the trading unit of China's largest refiner Sinopec, has now returned to Libya as one of the country's largest oil buyers. Sales to the two Chinese companies had previously been singled out for scrutiny by Libyan government officials. The Libyan Interpol document said the issues surrounding sales to PetroChina and Unipec had been first raised by Najwa el-Beshti, who was head of contracts at NOC's marketing department under Ghanem. Beshti told Dow Jones Newswires the sales had taken place between June 2008 and 2010. She said contracts had typically been signed six months to a year after deliveries had started, potentially enabling the companies to pay with a delay. Libyan oil officials have previously said companies which gained irregular deals under Gadhafi could be disadvantaged or lose deals under the new regime. Mustafa El-Huni, the official responsible for oil at the interim National Transitional Council, said last year it would be up to Libyan courts, not the NOC or the interim government, to establish if a contract is valid. "If [corruption] is proven, the law will judge," El-Huni said at the time.
Once called the Pearl of the Sahara, Libya's centuries-old heritage site, Ghadamis, has been devoid of tourists since the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi began last year. Residents say the instability created after the downfall of the Gaddafi regime has dealt a heavy blow to the city's tourist-reliant economy. Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh reports from Ghadamis.
The Libyan Minister of Economy Ahmed el-Koshly has inaugurated the Libya Build 2012 fair.
18 May 2012, Rome - Libya and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have committed themselves to work together to develop the country’s agricultural sector and improve food security, signing a cooperation agreement at FAO headquarters.
The agreement was signed by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and Sulaiman Abdelhamed Boukharruba, Libya's Minister for Agriculture, Animal Wealth and Marine Resources.
"This agreement includes a number of strategic projects aimed at supporting the new Libya in responding to its development goals and priorities," said Graziano da Silva.
Projects under the agreement will aim to increase food production and improve productivity while preserving natural resources such as water, all with the goal of improving food security in the country.
Beneficiaries will include farmers, herders and fishermen, as well as their organisations and cooperatives and traders.
The projects will significantly enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Wealth and Marine Resources to implement all the proposed activities under the agreement. Ministry staff will receive both short- and long-term technical training. In March 2011, the FAO had expressed its concerns regarding food resources in Libya for its dependency on cereal imports that are vulnerable to disruptions due to people displacements. In a response to the UN flash appeal to the Libyan food crisis last year, the FAO was planning to supply peri-urban and coastal areas with vegetable seeds in order to boost the consumption of fresh food and micronutrient intake. The agreement comes after the startling recovery of the economic standing of Libya and it is expected to help the sectors of agriculture and food industry.
(Reuters) - Industrialized nations have stepped up plans to help countries swept up in the Arab Spring rebuild their economies through more access to international credit markets, investment and trade, a senior State Department official said on Monday.
The G8 launched the so-called Deauville Partnership last year, including global lenders such as the IMF and World Bank, after uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya ended decades-long dictatorships and protests prompted political reforms in countries such as Morocco and Jordan.
Hormats said there had been political and economic advances in the countries since the Arab Spring events, but financial conditions were still challenging and countries needed to export more and attract foreign investment.
"This meeting ... was designed to give political support to the countries and also recognize we need to continue to build," he told Reuters.
"Things are changing but they still have big financial challenges and need resources. The fact that there is economic weaknesses in their biggest Mediterranean markets is not helpful to them," he added, referring to the euro zone economic crisis.
The G8 agreed to create a capital markets access initiative to help the five countries tap international capital markets "under reasonable financing terms" to meet their financing needs and allow government enterprises to invest in projects that create jobs, according State Department and U.S. Treasury statements on Monday.
G8 donors also agreed to create a new transition fund to strengthen government institutions vital for economic development, they added.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was also trying to change its charter to create a special fund worth $4 billion to invest in the region over the next three years, Hormats said.
"We'd like to get it done within the next month or so but certainly by September," he said of the plans.
Hormats said further meetings around the Deauville Partnership would take place at a G20 leaders' summit in Mexico next month, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September, and at October meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Tokyo.
He said he would travel to Paris and Tunis over the next few days to encourage more investment and trade opportunities.
While budget constraints prevented the United States from committing new aid to the countries, Hormats said Washington could support through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and the Overseas Private Investment Corp.
Hormats said G8 efforts were also focused on improving transparency and accountability in the countries, which will help improve the business climate.
It would also facilitate the return under the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, or StAR, run by the World Bank and United Nations, of stolen loot stashed outside countries by former senior government officials.
Political turmoil across the Middle East and North Africa has translated into slower economic growth and forced some governments to spend billions of dollars to create jobs and counter rising costs to stave off further protests.
In addition, countries have been hard hit by the debt crisis in the euro zone, which has triggered global economic uncertainty and a slowdown in demand. Tourism, a major source of revenue for both Tunisia and Egypt, has been hammered, while worker remittances have fallen sharply.
Egypt is currently in talks with the IMF to finalize a $3.2 billion loan although analysts have put the country's financing needs at about $15 billion. The Fund has said it could provide $35 billion to help emerging Arab democracies.
Libya's oil industry has revived its oil production faster than many in the industry predicted after the eight-month civil war that damaged export terminals and left oil facilities looted.
The Libyan government declared it will not nationalize oil companies.
A director of Akakus Oil Operations was kidnapped in the city on 13 May on his way home from work. Seven people were killed and more than 20 injured in clashes in the western town of Ghadames in recent days, while in Obari a candidate for Libya's national elections was shot dead by unknown armed assailants. On the Libya-Egypt border, two men were killed and 29 others were wounded after they illegally crossed from Egypt to Libya and entered...
Benghazi will remain the same and there will be a risk of demonstrations and low level violence in the run up to the parliamentary elections. There is also a risk of further attacks using crude improvised devices, targeting government employees, the foreign diplomatic presence or large political gatherings.
The risk of clashes in the south and west of the country will remain, and there is likely to be sporadic fighting over the coming weeks and months.
Campaigning for the coming elections is likely to pick up over the coming weeks. There is expected to be a strong Islamist showing, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party expected to perform well.
Tripoli The situation in Tripoli remains the same, although AKE personnel on the ground have highlighted the threat of lawlessness and petty crime. Although generally low, particularly considering the lack of any organised force responsible for law enforcement, there is a general risk of muggings and robbery.
On 15 May unconfirmed reports indicated that two foreign journalists were robbed at gun-point near the Grand Hotel near the port and the old city/Martyrs’ Square. The assailants reportedly took the journalists’ cameras. Personnel should be mindful that although the situation is generally safe, and the risk of such incidents is generally low, there is a baseline risk given the lack of an organised police force.
Meanwhile, a director of Akakus Oil Operations, identified as Abdul Majeed Shiha, was kidnapped in Tripoli on 13 May on his way home from work. The assailants were an unknown armed group, who intercepted his car and held him for several hours in an unknown location in the city. Shiha was later released handcuffed and blindfolded in the Injila area of south Tripoli. His car and mobile phone were both stolen.
Although it remains unclear who carried out the kidnapping, it is clear that the increased number of armed groups operating in the city represents a potential destabilising factor. Many are resorting to criminal activity with increased frequency. The government will be keen to increase the rate at which these groups are disarmed, and responsibility for security is passed to a centrally controlled force.
Benghazi Benghazi remains calm, and there have been no major incidents of note over the past week. However, personnel should be mindful of the risk of demonstrations that can cause disruption in central areas of the city. AKE personnel on the ground have long highlighted the potential for disruption caused by strikes and demonstrations in central areas of the city, a fact that may become all the more apparent in the run-up to elections in June.
Large political gatherings can have the potential for violence, and there have also been a number of small scale bomb attacks at similar events in recent months.
Ghadames Seven people were killed and more than 20 injured in clashes in the western town of Ghadames in recent days. Reports indicate that the fighting was between local residents and a group of Tuareg militiamen who took over control of a checkpoint on the edge of the town. Tensions between local Arab and the traditionally nomadic Tuareg tribes have intensified since the revolution, in which many Tuareg provided support for pro-Gaddafi forces. There is an ongoing risk of further hostilities in the region and personnel travelling to the area should be aware of the risk of summary detention and kidnap by armed groups attempting to raise the profile of their specific grievances.
Obari – South Western Libya A candidate for Libya's national elections, identified as Khaled Abu Saleh, was shot dead by unknown armed assailants in the town of Ubari, shortly after registering as a candidate. Abu Saleh was travelling home from the registry office when he was intercepted by the armed gang. Local security sources have indicated that the culprits were a criminal gang, although there has been no confirmation of this.
Personnel considering travel to Obari, which is located along the main route to the major oil operations in the Murzuq Basin (Elephant and Sharara oil fields), are advised to take proper risk mitigation procedures. AKE personnel who visited the area noted that although the situation was generally calm, there are notable tensions between rival groups in the area, and the complete lack of any centralised law enforcement would slow the response capabilities of the authorities to any incident. The burden is therefore on company management to ensure that proper risk mitigation procedures are carried out, and response plans are put in place to cover all likely eventualities.
Libya-Egypt Border Two men were killed and 29 others were wounded on 13 May after they illegally crossed the border from Egypt to Libya and entered into a minefield. The northern border region between the two countries was heavily mined by the UK and Germany during World War II, and AKE has previously advised those travelling in the area not to stray from major access routes.
Political Section Abdelhakim Belhadj stated on 14 May that he is quitting his post as the head of the Tripoli Military Council in order to devote himself full-time to politics. The move can be seen as a significant vote of confidence in the democratic transition process, demonstrating that the former rebel commander feels his influence will be greater in the political field than it would be if he remained a militia commander. Despite initial reports indicating he was too late to register for the 19 June elections, Belhadj subsequently stated that he had already registered his party, named al-Watan (The Homeland), and would be taking part in the elections. He also stated that the party had candidates in every major Libyan city. Belhadj is known to have a large and loyal core of supporters, but remains a controversial figure given his alleged past role as the head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).
AKE is a leading international security risk-mitigation and analysis provider to international businesses, insurers, NGOs and news media. Founded in 1991 by Andrew Kain, AKE distinguishes itself from other security firms by taking a needs- and intelligence-led approach to assessing, monitoring, training for and protecting against risk. For security assistance on the situation in Libya please contact email@example.com or call +44 (0) 1432 267 111. For intelligence contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) has awarded a contract to British security firm G4S in Libya despite the fact it has no permission to work there.
The Ofer prison is currently in the headlines because of a mass hunger strike by Palestinian detainees who are being held without trial, making G4S a potential target for Arab hostility in the region.
According to EUobserver which questioned the whole affair, "The €10 million contract covers bodyguards and building security for the EU's Tripoli and Benghazi delegations for the next four years starting 1 June. EEAS officials also signed an end-user agreement for the company to import assault rifles and 9mm pistols for its work."
The online publication said EEAS took the steps despite the fact G4S has no permission from the National Transitional Council (NTC), the internationally recognized postwar authority in Libya, to operate on its territory.
EEAS spokesman Michael Mann and G4S spokesman Adam Mynott confirmed the
company has no NTC authorization. They told EUobserver that permission is not needed because there is no relevant law in Libya until a new government is formed after the upcoming elections.
"From the information we gathered in Libya, mainly through our delegation, there is no condition to get a 'non-objection' before granting a contract to a company. There is no law in Libya which regulates the operation of foreign security service companies," Mann said. "The current regime is not issuing non-objection documents," Mynott noted.
Mohamed Farhat told the website on 2 May that the EEAS asked him in April to arrange a G4S permit. He noted that authorities in Tripoli are examining the request but have not made up their mind yet. "The Libyan government is the one who says Yes or No if there is to be any security company to provide security services ... We are a sovereign state and we say Yes or No," Farhat said. The EEAS contract was originally to start on 1 April. But Ashton officials gave G4S leeway to start on 1 June because it is not ready.
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May 17 (Reuters) - Libya has approved an Islamic banking law that will introduce sharia-compliant banking in the North African country, a member of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) said on Thursday.
Ahmad Salem Al Koshly is the Minister of Economy in the Libyan Transitional Government. He spoke with The Prospect Group about the current security situation in Libya and its effect on the business climate.
United Nations, New York, April 2012 - Elections come to Benghazi. In the city where the revolution started, residents are preparing for two polls in the coming period -- local then national. For all but the oldest, it's a novel experience.
New Tunisian – Libyan level of business cooperation gives the Tunisian economy a boost.
Libya is on track to regain its prewar oil pumping levels of 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) next month, a top official of the transitional government has said.
"From 400,000 [after the war], now we reach rapidly 1.5" million bpd, Mustafa El Huni, the deputy chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), said at a conference in Dubai yesterday.
"We hope after one month we will go back to our old level of production, which was about 1.65 million barrels per day according to our quota in Opec."
The news comes as oil markets, in which Libya accounted for about 2 per cent of supply before last year's revolution, are already being pushed down by economic fears in Europe and China. Yesterday, Brent, the European benchmark, was trading at US$111 a barrel.
The NTC, a temporary guardian government, has set aside 38 billion Libyan dinars (Dh109.95bn) of its 68bn dinar budget this year for rebuilding efforts in sectors including oil, communications and health care.
Next month, Libya is to elect its first national assembly, whose 200 members are tasked with drafting a constitution.
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A Belgian trade delegation will arrive in Tripoli this week to discuss investment opportunities between Belgium and Libya.
Tripoli - Months after rebels brought down the extravagant dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi, the disarray in Libya's state finances at the end of last year was so bad the new leadership did not know the size of state assets, how their money was being spent, or what had happened to more than $2bn transferred from the sovereign wealth fund.
Libyan officials say the anomalies in the state's finances revealed in the document were the result of complex accounting rules, delays in settling bills and poor communication between government departments - not by money being misused or stolen.
But campaigners for financial transparency say that the disarray in tracking government finances creates a fertile environment for abuse to ccur, particularly when Libya is now earning over $2bn a month from selling crude oil.
"The proper management of public finances, especially oil revenues which make up 90% of government revenues, is crucial," said Giulio Carini, a campaigner with the international anti-corruption group Global Witness.
"Any lack of transparency and accountability... fuels mistrust and suspicion that the interim and any future government of Libya is not taking the necessary steps to reverse the past legacy of mismanagement."
Libya has lacked a strong, central government since the rebellion, backed by Nato jets and missiles, ended Gaddafi's 42-year rule last year.
International concern about the new Libya has focused on security issues: out-of-control militias clashing with each other, weapons being smuggled across poorly-secured borders, the threat of Libya splitting into regional fiefdoms.
But there is another risk too, that in the muddle of the transition in Libya, millions and possibly billions of dollars in state assets could be misappropriated.
The NTC document, which was obtained by Reuters, relates to state finances several months back, under a government that has since been replaced. Nevertheless, high-profile corruption scandals since then indicate that the government's shortcomings with keeping track of money have still not been resolved.
In November last year, the NTC's economy and finance committee, which provides oversight over the work of the interim government, submitted an internal report on the activities of the oil and finance ministries, the central bank and the sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA).
The seven-page report was dated 27 November 2011. It listed a litany of accounting holes, and failures by branches of the government to share information about th cash they were handling.
In one passage, the report's authors said they needed more information to understand how the central bank calculated the $139.9bn it said Libya held in assets abroad.
"The question is: what is the size of deposits and investments for the central bank alone?" the report asked.
In another section, it took the oil and finance ministries to task over their lack of transparency.
"The (oil and finance) department has not provided monthly reports identifying sources of available financial revenues, their use and the way cash balances are being dealt with," it said.
The two ministries had "not provided reports on oil export shipments and the amounts collected in return and how the amounts were spent".
It said also it had received no details on who in the public sector had been paid their wages and how much they were paid.
The NTC said in the document it had reports of "ambiguity" surrounding sales of foreign currency and contracts concluded with brokers and currency traders.
In a different section, the report's authors addressed the LIA. The document queried $2.456bn which the LIA said it had handed over to the treasury, but had, it seemed, not shown up on the government's books.
"When have they (the LIA monies) been transferred to the treasury, how have they paid and to whom have they been paid?" the report asked.
The NTC complained that the sovereign fund was keeping it in the dark on other issues as well. It said the fund provided it with no details on assets held in stocks, bonds or investment funds, including those funds which had registered multi-million dollar losses.
In the report, the NTC committee said it had no information on why the LIA's assets had shrunk. "Total (LIA) resources after 2010 allocations were $65bn, how did it become $62.956bn?" the report asked.
Money 'not misused'
Asked to comment on the shortcomings raised in the report, NTC spokesperson Mohammed al-Harizy acknowledged that "communication is very weak between the NTC and the government".
He said the NTC had set up a special oil committee, which started work in April, to improve oversight over crude exports and the revenues earned.
Harizy said there was "no control over the international investments", and government schemes to provide assistance to people who fought Gaddafi in last year's revolt have seen cases of corruption at local level.
But at the ministry level, he said: "I don't think the money is being misused... The oil revenue is turned over to the finance ministry right away so I don't think there are problems."
Asked about the allegations of "ambiguity" with currency transactions, central bank deputy governor Ali Mohammed Salem said: "We had to sell dollars at a low price in order to bring the cash flow back into the banks."
An LIA official, Mohsen Derregia, told Reuters the authority could not immediately comment on the NTC document.
Ibrahim Belkheir, the head of the Libyan government audit bureau, said his office had looked into the issues raised in the report, including the LIA's financial statements, but said he could not disclose his findings.
He said though that most of the apparent financial discrepancies raised in the report could be explained by routine delays between oil export shipments being delivered and payment being received.
Belkheir, an academic before the revolt, has been given a leading role in trying to ensure that the pervasive corruption under Gaddafi does not carry over into the new Libya.
Already there are signs of graft. In one case, the government had to halt a scheme to give cash to people who fought in last year's rebellion because the money was being paid out to people who were dead or who never fought.
In another scam, fraudsters enjoyed state-funded vacations abroad by claiming to be wounded veterans of the fighting needing treatment in foreign hospitals.
The corner office where Belkheir works is steeped in symbolism. It was previously used by Hannibal Gaddafi, a son of the ex-Libyan leader famous for his extravagant lifestyle and raucous parties in five-star European hotels.
Belkheir said his organisation would root out corruption wherever it found it and had not faced any interference from the new authorities. But he acknowledged he faced a huge task.
"Corruption is not easy to uproot. It is a cultural issue that is prevailing among certain people," he said.
"As they are so used to it, it does not seem to be corruption to them."
According to Turkey’s official statistics TurkStat, Turkey’s exports to Libya has jumped to high levels since visa exemption agreement.