Libya Herald editor steps aside

Tunis, 20 January 2017:

After more than six years as editor-in-chief of the Libya Herald, Michel Cousins has stepped aside and is on sabbatical. Sami Zaptia, the co-founder and managing editor, is now in charge.

“Covering the news about Libya has been a great privilege and a passion. There has been no lack of events to write about; indeed sometimes too many for our small team and even smaller resources,” said Cousins.

“For the past three and a half years, ever since the Thinni government was forced to quit Tripoli, it has also been ever more challenging. The rivalries between the authorities in the east and west and others have not made things easy, while keeping in touch with correspondents who have been trying to work through power cuts and the internet and mobile phones not working has created further difficulties. Their loyalty, enthusiasm and dedication to getting the news out has more than compensated, however.”

Cousins intends to continue to focus on Libya – on the challenges, the possibilities and the dangers. He is moving into consultancy on the political, economic, social and military situations in the country.

“I have little confidence in the current political process in Libya. None of the main players want Ghassan Salamé’s action plan to succeed. They want a settlement only on their terms. Yet, despite the stalemate and despite the fact that Libya has been listed by Forbes Magazine as the second worst country in the world to do business, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“There are opportunities, in particular at local level where life continues as normal. There is a small handful of exceptions to this, but go to Misrata, to Zintan, to Tobruk, Beida, Gharyan, Khoms, Zuwara and so many other towns and cities, and they are functioning relatively normally.

“Libya is effectively now a decentralised state where local municipalities have learned that if anything is to happen they are the ones who have to do it, whether it is setting up a desalination plant, upgrading the local hospital, improving cleansing services or simply installing new traffic lights. The fact that, legally, they are responsible for none of these has become irrelevant. Libya is in the process of a de facto political evolution. The local authorities are assuming powers that will become the norm in the future even though the CDA has proposed almost nothing about decentralisation in its draft constitution. This transformation is very encouraging.”

You can contact the former editor at: [email protected]

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