Opposition to new Libyan PM may ruin oil port deal

2014-05-09 10:27

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tripoli - A Libyan government deal to reopen major oil ports controlled by rebels looks likely to unravel as the appointment of a new Islamist-backed prime minister fuels distrust that is eroding support for the accord.

Ahmed Maiteeq, a hotel entrepreneur in his 40s little known abroad, took office on Sunday as Libya's third premier in just two months after a chaotic parliamentary vote. His government pledged on Thursday to uphold the deal on the ports.

The questionable voting procedure and a lack of broad support for Maiteeq - lawmakers took a month to pick him from seven candidates - highlight his weakness and will encourage Libya's fractured political groups to oppose him, analysts say.

This will complicate efforts to persuade the rebels holding two vital eastern ports to reopen them and makes it unlikely crude output will return to 1.4 million barrels per day seen before a wave of protests at oil facilities started last summer.

Separate protest groups without clear leadership are also blocking western oilfields and pipelines.

"Maiteeq is not as strong a consensus candidate as former prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni was," said Riccardo Fabiani, North Africa analyst at Eurasia, a political risk agency.

"Lacking Thinni's history of negotiations success, Maiteeq is unlikely to make any significant progress in the upcoming discussion round between the central authorities and the federalist rebels," Fabiani added.

The eastern rebels lost no time in rejecting Maiteeq as illegitimate, effectively suspending talks to reopen the Ras Lanuf and Es Sider terminals as agreed with Thinni's government last month. The premier later resigned.

Legitimacy

Libya has lacked a strong leader since the overthrow of veteran strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 by a Nato-backed uprising of diverse rebel groups including Islamists such as the Muslim Brothers.

The oil port standoff exposes the inability of the new authorities to impose their authority, with a national army still in training and complex political rivalries undermining the government's attempts to build legitimacy.

Maiteeq comes from the western port city of Misrata, home to a vibrant business community. Formally independent, he has the support of the Muslim Brothers, who are strong in Misrata.

His appointment struck a raw nerve in the east, which has complained for decades of neglect under Gaddafi. The west boasts better roads and hospitals and thanks to relatively good security has also secured more foreign investment.

"We are totally against Maiteeq's appointment," said Osama al-Khadari, an activist in Benghazi, the main eastern city where many oppose the Muslim Brothers. "We plan to hold protests and urge (the rebels) not to open the oil ports."

A month ago, the rebels handed back to the government two ports, Hariga and Zueitina, which have resumed oil exports.

The larger Ras Lanuf and Es Sider terminals stay shut and rebel leaders accuse Tripoli of reneging on an agreement to put their fighters back onto a state oil protection force payroll.

Serious action

Diplomats said some lawmakers were opposed to the port deal and parliament has not formally lifted its threat of a military offensive despite a government promise. That plan may be revived if the talks collapse.

"If [port rebel leader Ibrahim] Jathran will not reopen Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, there will be a disaster because these two ports have a major oil production," said Sulaiman Ghajam, a member of parliament's energy committee.

Maiteeq's perceived weakness has emboldened Jathran, an acclaimed rebel commander in the 2011 uprising, to press demands for more autonomy from Tripoli.

This week, he affirmed his support for a federalist state that shares power and wealth, as under Gaddafi's predecessor King Idris - a demand the weak central government cannot accept.

With parliamentary elections set for later this year Maiteeq's mandate is limited to just a few months, further dampening any hopes for an early breakthrough in the oil talks.

Maiteeq has tried to win over sceptics by stressing his business credentials and his non-party background.

Asma Sariba, a lawmaker from Beida in the east, said his stated aim of forming a broad government comprising all forces was a positive gesture, but she cautioned: "It is easy to say something but in fact Libya now needs serious action."
Read more on:    libya  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Health
 

Tips on how to set your fitness goals

Before you embark on a fitness or training programme, set yourself clear and realistic long-term and short-term goals.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

This all-terrain vehicle is badass!
The TRUTH about painkillers and exercise
WIN! Where were you when you last felt alive?
Watch: Fishing under ice

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Store Manager

Cape Town
Headcount Personnel
R14 000 - R15 000 Per Month

Telesales Consultant - Table View

Table View - Parklands
Your Move Personnel
R4 500 - R5 000 Per Month

Newly Qualified Graduates: Customer Service Agents

Cape Town
O'Brien Recruitment
R10 000 - R12 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on electronics!

Get mind blowing savings on top electronic products. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be spending too much time organising and trying to control things to make sure everything is perfect instead of just...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.