By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, March 29: The spokesman of the Libyan government, Nasser Al-Mana, announced on Wednesday evening that a ministerial delegation from the government, headed by the Local Government Minister and representatives of seven other ministries had gone to Sebha to try to calm the situation and end the conflict.
The delegation’s mission, he said, was to assess the situation carefully and determine the needs of the region, such as relief and ambulance services, and to ensure that all requirements are met. He said that, meanwhile, the interim government had called on everyone to show restraint and behave responsibly in order to stabilize the region.
He confirmed that the armed clashes in Sebha between the various parties had left 70 people dead and around 150 wounded. On Monday, he said, 1500 soldiers of the national army and the Border Guards had been deployed in the area, and a further 1500 were being sent there on Wednesday.
He added that a committee of elders and wise men from all Libyan cities met yesterday with the various parties in the Sebha in the hope of convincing them to practice restraint and resort to dialogue and understanding. Al-Mana said that that the Ministry of Health had sent medical crews, ambulances and medical supplies and had already operated more than six flights to airlift the wounded and that work was underway to setup a field hospital at Sebha.
The right to demonstrate
Asked about the strikes, demonstrations and road blocks by workers or revolutionaries, Al- Mana said that “the right to assemble, demonstrate, write or express ideas, etc. is supported and encouraged by this government. It is part of democracy but democracy means that decisions are made by the state.”
When asked about the many unconfirmed rumours flying about in the various media sources, he condemned them and expressed his surprise at some of the sources that carried them. “They have tried everything,” he said — “even hacking my email and Facebook page and putting up a fake one. They even put out stories in my name, for example, that I said that the issue of the [Tripoli International] airport was being postponed until we solved the Sebha issue.
“This is not true; I never said any such thing.”
Referring to the old regime, he said: “They have lost the military battle, and they are now trying to win the battle of misinformation.”
The handover of Tripoli International Airport
On the handover of Tripoli International Airport, the spokesperson was clear: “The airport will be taken over by official institutions made up of a mixture of police, army, etc. – but not by other revolutionaries.
“On Sunday we were completely ready to take over. A delegation made up of various ministries went to take over. However, when they arrived, detailed discussions were re-opened, including the condition that some of the revolutionaries guarding the airport be allowed to work at the airport.
But while the government respects all the revolutionaries, there is a project of rehabilitation and re-training specifically for them, which they should participate in.
Therefore no agreement was reached on handover and the government withdrew. We continue to negotiate and today (Wednesday, March 28) we received a delegation from the revolutionaries and from the elders from Zintan. Today the revolutionaries holding the airport agreed to participate in the various rehabilitation and re-training projects designed especially for them. But the state decides who works where,” he stressed.
The resignation of the Defence Minister?
The official spokesperson categorically denied the resignation of the Defence Minister, Colonel Osama Juwaili.
Economic activities and incentives to help the revolutionaries and the unemployed
The official spokesperson was asked if enough were being done to meet the needs of the youth, the unemployed and the revolutionaries.
“We have a plan to rehabilitate and retrain the revolutionaries and youth. We have set up an organization for re-training youth and to encourage small businesses and it has received over 200,000 applications to join various organizations or continue education.
“We have entered the data concerning the revolutionaries into a database, and we have begun interviews in order to assess them. The organization has opened over 20 sites and committees to deal with those to offer help in training and micro-finance. Grants will be paid to various revolutionaries for the duration of the war. We have taken various steps to offer relief such as tax exemptions, the non-payment of electricity bills etc. We hope all these measures will have a positive effect on Libya’s security and its stable environment.”
Libya’s latest oil production figures?
“Libya is producing on average 1.45 million barrels per day. It is the highest rate of production reached in the history of the new post-17 February Revolution and production is on the increase. We thank those who have taken part in achieving this.”