News / Middle East

    Libyan Rebels Reject Talks with PM, Keep Oil Ports Shut

    Reuters
    Rebels occupying major oil ports in eastern Libya said on Wednesday they would boycott Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq and keep two major export terminals shut for now, a blow to efforts to restore vital oil exports.
     
    The rebels even warned they would take action if Tripoli did not fulfill its part of a recent agreement to reopen the oil ports, a veiled threat to close the terminals again.
     
    “Nothing has been implemented,” said Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, self-declared prime minister of the rebel movement.
     
    He accused the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists in parliament of undermining the agreement and trying to take over the ports.
     
    The struggle over energy wealth is part of growing turmoil in the North African country three years after the overthrow of dictator Moammer Gadhafi.
     
    Maiteeq's predecessor, Abdullah al-Thinni, reached an agreement with the rebels to reopen four of the ports, although only the smaller facilities, Hariga and Zueitina, have been handed over to government forces.
     
    Both sides agreed to hold further talks over the larger Ras Lanuf and Es Sider exports terminals.
     
    Barassi said the rebels would not deal with Maiteeq, claiming he had not come to power legally. The businessman was sworn in on Sunday after a chaotic election in parliament that was disputed by many deputies.
     
    “Mr Abdullah al-Thinni needs to explain or appoint someone to say why there is this delay and why the agreement has not been implemented,” Barassi told a rebel television station.
     
    If the government did implement the deal, then the rebels might take unspecific “measures.” Barassi did not elaborate, but rebel spokesman Ali al-Hasi said this would mean asking tribal elders whether the reopened ports should be closed again.
     
    Barassi said more talks about “new conditions” were needed to reopen the Ras Lanuf and Es Sider ports. He did not say what these conditions would entail, but top leader Ibrahim Jathran said the group wanted a federal system sharing power and oil wealth between the regions, an impossible demand on the weak central government.
     
    There was no immediate comment from Tripoli, which has struggled to assert authority over a country awash in arms and rival militias, some of which have seized oil ports and fields to make political and financial demands.
     
    Deficit
     
    Their actions have cut oil output to 250,000 barrels a day  from 1.4 million bpd last summer, eroding public finances that are almost entirely dependent on crude exports.
     
    Parliament has failed to approve a budget for this year.
     
    Libya will post a budget deficit of 10 billion Libyan dinars ($8 billion) because oil revenues will reach only 34.7 billion dinars, said Mohammed Ali Abdullah, head of the parliamentary budget committee.
     
    However, the deficit might be much higher because the draft, which comes to a vote on Sunday, assumes annual oil production of 800,000 bpd and an oil price of $100 a barrel, an unlikely goal if the Ras Lanuf or Es Sider ports remain shut.
     
    Total expenditures will be 59 billion dinars, mainly for public salaries and subsidies, Abdullah said.
     
    He did not say how the deficit would be funded. The central bank had foreign reserves worth $115 billion at the end of February. Oil exports are also the only source of funding for annual imports of $30 billion.
     
    In another sign of turmoil, most air traffic at Benghazi airport came to a halt for hours after a fight among ground staff.
     
    The two main local carriers, Libyan and Afriqiyah Airlines, suspended operations after a member of the ground staff tried to smuggle two Chadians without travel documents onto a flight, airport officials said.
     
    The employee scuffled with a colleague who tried to stop him, a source at ground handling firm al-Shorooq said.
     
    And in Tripoli, gunmen beat up the chairman of one of the  biggest state cellphone operators to demand that the company open an office in their town, a company source said. Staff plan to strike on Thursday, he added. 

    ($1 = 1.2265 Libyan Dinars)

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora