Ousted Libyan PM Flees Country After Tanker Escapes Rebel-Held Port

Posted by Michelle Howard
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Libya's now ousted Prime Minister Ali Zeidan (AFP file photo, Mahmud Turkia)

By Ulf Laessing, Reuters

Former Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan has fled to Europe after parliament voted him out of office on Tuesday over his failure to stop rebels exporting oil independently in a brazen challenge to the nation's fragile unity.

Zeidan was in Malta for two hours late on Tuesday on a short stop before going to "another European country", Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told state-owned television TVM.

Government sources in Malta said he had left via a private plane bound for Germany, but the German authorities could not confirm he had arrived.

The standoff over control of oil exports runs across dangerous regional and tribal faultlines in Libya where rival militias with powerbases in the east and west back competing political factions in the transitional government.

Western powers, who supported the NATO campaign that came to the aid of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion, fear the OPEC member state could slide into greater instability or even break apart, with rival groups laying claim to power and vast oil reserves.

Parliament acted after rebels holding three key ports in the east disobeyed government orders and loaded a North Korean-flagged tanker with oil at Es Sider port as part of their drive for a federal state in their eastern region.

Although Zeidan had threatened to use force to stop the vessel leaving, the tanker managed to reach international waters and flee, undermining the prime minister's credibility.

Malta's Muscat said he spoke briefly to Zeidan, who lived for many years in Europe before the 2011 uprising encouraged exiles like him to return to a North African country still struggling to shake off four decades of Gaddafi's one-man rule.

Libya's state prosecutor Abdel-Qader Radwan had issued a travel ban on Zeidan because he faces an investigation over alleged irregularities involving misuse of state funds.

The General National Congress (GNC), Libya's transitional assembly, named Defence Minister Abdallah al-Thinni acting prime minister for two weeks. Deputies plan to pick another replacement in the interim ahead of a parliamentary vote expected later this year.

Whoever is chosen will face a mammoth task trying to unite and cajole a country deeply divided along tribal, regional and political lines, where hardline Islamists oppose more liberal leaders such as Zeidan.

"We are new to this political game. We are still learning," said Salah Elbakhoush, a Tripoli-based political analyst.

"But we hope that there will be an improvement after Zeidan left," he said.

No Army, No Credibility
Libya has lurched from crisis to crisis since the fall of Gaddafi nearly three years ago, and many Libyans are frustrated by the slow progress in their transition to democracy.

The country still has no effective army or police, and the government is in danger of running out of money because the rebel activity at oilfields and ports have dried up vital oil revenue. Oil output has fallen to a trickle.

That has left powerful groups of former rebels and militiamen to often step into the vacuum in a country still awash with arms from Gaddafi's days and the revolt that ended his rule.

The Misratan militia, based in the port town of Misrata and loosely allied with Islamist parties in the GNC, has already been gathering forces to support the government and face off with fighters loyal to the eastern federalists who seized the ports.

But analysts said their main rivals, the Zintanis in the mountain town of Zintan near the northwest border with Tunisia, are unlikely to want the Misratans take a larger role in the country's security without reacting themselves.

How far those rivalries will erupt is unclear, with alliances often shifting in the complex network of interlacing disputes. Clashes broke out on Tuesday between rebel gunmen and pro-government forces in Sirte, a central coastal city dividing western and eastern Libya.

"With control of the central government and Libya's oil at stake, all of these groups, rivalries, and alliances of convenience are coming to the fore," said Geoff Porter, North Africa specialist at West Point's Combating Terrorism Center.

"One of the reasons that Libya has reached this impasse is that dialogue had failed, not least because there was no one in Libya that could speak authoritatively and had the capacity to translate words into action."

Mystery Tanker

There was no still word on the whereabouts of the tanker which sparked the crisis that led to Zeidan's ouster.

A military spokesman said on Tuesday that Libyan gunboats chased the tanker along Libya's eastern Mediterranean coast and opened fire, damaging it, and said Italian naval ships were helping move the tanker to a Libyan government-controlled port.

But Italy denied any of its vessels were in the area at the time and the reported incident of a naval ship opening fire could not be confirmed. The navy and defence ministry have not been available for comment since.

The eastern rebels are made up of former oil security forces who defected with their leader Ibrahim Jathran, a former Gaddafi fighter, in the summer and took over the oil terminals to claim more autonomy for their self-declared Cyrenaica region.

Zeidan's government tried for months to mediate an end to the ports seizure, and Cyrenaica leaders had claimed an agreement was close.

Support had seemed to be waning for Jathran after the six-month ports closure, and the navy had already opened fire on a Maltese-flagged tanker trying to approach Es Sider in January.

(Additional reporting by Chris Scicluna; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Maritime Reporter August 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

MNZ Inspectors Board Fishing Vessels Off South Island

A joint operation by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) and the New Zealand Defence Force – Operation Moana – has seen 16 fishing vessels operating off the west coast of

Australian Navy Delivers Solomon Island Supplies

Two Royal Australian Navy landing craft have delivered vital supplies to remote communities in Solomon Islands as part of Australia’s commitment to provide support to the region.

Seacure Higher Flow-Rate BWTS Certified by BSH

Evoqua inform that the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency of Germany (Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie- BSH), which previously granted the Evoqua

Tanker Trends

For Europe's LNG Ports, Russia Gas Fears and US Exporters Buoy Demand

Gas buyers nervous of Russia cutting supply are helping solve Europe's problem of too many underused liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, as they seek space at France's Dunkirk plant.

Buckeye Pipeline Quietly Makes Key Acquisition

Houston-based logistic firm Buckeye Partners has spent more than $3.5 billion buying assets since 2010, transforming itself from a quiet regional pipeline utility into an emerging energy powerhouse.

Scorpio Tankers Receive 7 More Newbuildings

Scorpio Tankers Inc. say it has recently taken delivery of seven newbuilding vessels as follows: STI Madison and STI Park, LR2 product tankers, were delivered

Ports

PierPass' New President Responsible for Ports of LA & Long Beach

New president John Cushing’s role gives him responsibility for PierPass programs to relieve congestion and improve air quality at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Environmental Attorney Joins Long Beach Harbor Commission

Environmental attorney and Long Beach resident Tracy Egoscue joined the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on Tuesday as the first Commissioner appointed by newly elected Mayor Robert Garcia.

DP World & Hutchison Port Holdings to Combat Global Warming

In an unprecedented show of commitment for an environmental cause, DP World and Hutchison Port Holdings Limited (HPH) have joined hands to combat global warming

Navy

Australian Navy Delivers Solomon Island Supplies

Two Royal Australian Navy landing craft have delivered vital supplies to remote communities in Solomon Islands as part of Australia’s commitment to provide support to the region.

International Seapower Symposium Kicks Off in Newport, R.I.

The 21st edition of the International Seapower Symposium (ISS) began Sept. 16 at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, R.I., with more than 170 representatives from 113 nations attending.

S. Korea Navy Chief Quizzed About Salvage Ship Absence

The state audit agency has interrogated the chief of the Navy over a faulty Navy salvage ship that failed to participate in the national rescue operation for the

Energy

Continental Resources Names New President after Bott's Quick Exit

Continental Resources Inc, the largest oil producer in North Dakota's Bakken shale formation, promoted Jack Stark to president on Wednesday, less than a week after Rick Bott quit the position.

Aiming to Make Less Fuel Go Further: Maersk Drilling

Maersk Drilling says it is engaged in an energy efficiency project for its newbuilds together with Maersk Maritime Technology. The project involves an Energy Management System (MSPS),

Two Prestigious Awards for Fincantieri

In the presence of the Minister for Education, University, and Research Stefania Giannini, at the Auditorium at Villa Farnesina in Rome, Fincantieri, represented by its Chairman Vincenzo Petrone,

Maritime Security

USCG in Search of Missing Man in Lake Michigan

The Coast Guard is searching for a man who went missing on Lake Michigan, Tuesday. Missing is 48-year-old Joseph Kiehm from Milwaukee. Kiehm was last seen aboard his 26-foot white sailboat,

International Seapower Symposium Kicks Off in Newport, R.I.

The 21st edition of the International Seapower Symposium (ISS) began Sept. 16 at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, R.I., with more than 170 representatives from 113 nations attending.

MARAD to Mark the Return of MV Cape Ray

Maritime (MARAD) Administrator Paul N. Jaenichen will host a ceremony on Friday, September 19, 2014 in Portsmouth, Va. to honor the civilian crew who helped to

News

Continental Resources Names New President after Bott's Quick Exit

Continental Resources Inc, the largest oil producer in North Dakota's Bakken shale formation, promoted Jack Stark to president on Wednesday, less than a week after Rick Bott quit the position.

USCG in Search of Missing Man in Lake Michigan

The Coast Guard is searching for a man who went missing on Lake Michigan, Tuesday. Missing is 48-year-old Joseph Kiehm from Milwaukee. Kiehm was last seen aboard his 26-foot white sailboat,

Environmental Attorney Joins Long Beach Harbor Commission

Environmental attorney and Long Beach resident Tracy Egoscue joined the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on Tuesday as the first Commissioner appointed by newly elected Mayor Robert Garcia.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1686 sec (6 req/sec)