By Hadi Fornaji
Tripoli, 26 March 2013:
Confusion surrounds claims that Libya is to transfer $2 billion to Egypt to help its stricken economy. The GNC today denied reports that the Egyptian Central Bank would receive the money but other sources have claimed the payment is imminent.
Suggestion that the funds were to be handed over first surfaced on Sunday night when a Turkish news agency quoted Mohamed Fayez Jebril, who is expected to be Libya’s next ambassador to Egypt, spoke to a Turkish news agency.
The Libya Herald reported on Sunday that in addition to the $2 billion, Libya had also agreed to provide Egypt with a million barrels of oil a month.
The UK’s Financial Times this morning claimed that it had received confirmation of the impending transfer from both a spokesman at the Libyan Central Bank and an Egyptian official. It quoted the spokesman, who it reported asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, as saying: “This is a deposit that is meant to be long-term investment because we want to strengthen the relations between Libya and Egypt. We must not forget that Libya’s national security is very closely related to Egypt’s national security. We want to help Egypt’s government and economy”. It was also reported that Libya had, in addition, agreed to speed up the granting of visa for thousands of labourers seeking to work here.
The head of the GNC Foreign Affair Committee, Mohamed Douma is reported to have told Egypt’s Ahram Online: “The GNC has not yet Jebril as the new ambassador to Egypt, so his statements are neither official, nor associated with the Libyan government. Ashour Bourashed is still the current Libyan ambassador to Egypt”.
Inevitably, though denied by both the Central Bank spokesman here and Egyptian government sources, the alleged payment, oil supply and visa concessions are being linked to the handover today of former ambassador to Egypt Ali Marya and Mohamed Ibrahim Mansour, a former senior finance official.
Both men were arrested in Cairo a week ago, along with Qaddafi’s cousin and confidante, Ahmed Qaddaf Al-Dam. Qaddaf Al-Dam is being held for 30 days while the Egyptian public prosecutor investigates charges that he opened fire on police who came to detain him. Libya has formally requested his extradition.
So far Qatar is the only Arab oil state to have publicly given financial assistance to Egypt, earlier this month handing over $4 billion in balance of payments support.