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)


People & Company News

MPA Appoints Koji Sekimizu as Distinguished Visiting Fellow

The S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) have appointed former Secretary-General of the

MN100: Klüber Lubrication NA LP

The Company: Klüber Lubrication is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of specialty lubricants, offering high-end tribological solutions to virtually all industries and markets worldwide.

Grand Bahama Shipyard Adds Four Executives

Grand Bahama Shipyard Limited (GBSL), a Caribbean shipyard providing retrofit, refurbishment and revitalization to cruise and commercial vessels, has added four

Tanker Trends

Big Tankers' Need for Retrofit Slows Use of New Panama Canal

The promise that some oil traders and brokers saw for an expanded Panama Canal to become a new route for large tankers will take longer to realize than expected

Pressure Mounting on VLGCs Rates - Drewry

A wave of cargo cancellations from the US is putting additional pressure on VLGC rates, according to the latest edition of the LPG Forecaster, published by global shipping consultancy Drewry.

Russian Tanker Detained in Malaysia

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) detained a Russian oil tanker Zolotoi Most along with 25 crew members for anchoring off Tanjung Piai without authorization,

Ports

Big Tankers' Need for Retrofit Slows Use of New Panama Canal

The promise that some oil traders and brokers saw for an expanded Panama Canal to become a new route for large tankers will take longer to realize than expected

Tough Twins: New Fireboats for Port of Long Beach

Canada based naval architect and marine engineering firm Robert Allan Ltd. is a leading designer of high-performance response vessels of many types and in particular,

Portland Auto Exports Drive ConnectOregon Grant

The Oregon Department of Transportation has awarded a ConnectOregon grant of $2.6 million to the Port of Portland along with tenant Auto Warehousing Co. to fund

Navy

This Day In Naval History: August 23

1819 - Commodore Oliver H. Perry, the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie, dies on board the schooner, USS Nonsuch, in Trinidad of a fever contracted during his successful

Researchers to Visit ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ Wreckage

Researchers from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its partners are set to visit what remains of two ships—a German U-boat and

Austal Hosts Christening of YUMA (EPF 8)

Austal celebrated the christening of the Expeditionary Fast Transport ship USNS Yuma (EPF 8) with a ceremony at its state-of-the-art shipyard here, this morning.

Energy

South Africa Workshop Promotes Ship Energy Efficiency

An International Maritime Organization (IMO) workshop is raising awareness of the Organization’s regulatory regime dealing with improving energy efficiency and

MISC Enters Thai Offshore O&G Market

Energy related maritime solutions and services provider MISC Berhad (MISC) has made inroads into Thailand’s offshore oil and gas market for the first time.

Pressure Mounting on VLGCs Rates - Drewry

A wave of cargo cancellations from the US is putting additional pressure on VLGC rates, according to the latest edition of the LPG Forecaster, published by global shipping consultancy Drewry.

Maritime Security

USCG Evaluates Comms Equipment in Alaska

Coast Guard Research and Development Center evaluates state-of-the-art communications equipment and Next Generation Incident Command System in Alaska   At nearly 663,

TSA Boosts Maritime Security in a Big Way

Though most visible to the general public for its work at America’s airports, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also helps to secure the country’s

Connected Ships, Smart Data, Cybersecurity to Feature in SHIPPINGInsight

Ship connectivity, smart data and cybersecurity will be central themes on the agenda at the fifth SHIPPINGInsight Fleet Optimization Conference & Exhibition. The

News

Monjasa Bags Credit Facility from Société Générale

Danish bunker fuel supplier and shipping firm Monjasa has signed a credit facility with French bank Société Générale for USD 80 million.    A statement from

Hanjin Shipping to Submit Self-Rescue Plan

South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping is planning on submitting a self-rescue plan to creditors this week to stave off bankruptcy by Aug. 25, reports Korea Herald quoting local media.

MPA Appoints Koji Sekimizu as Distinguished Visiting Fellow

The S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) have appointed former Secretary-General of the

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | 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: 0.1308 sec (8 req/sec)