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Libya on verge of civil war, threatening ‘permanent division’

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The damage done to Libya will already take “years to mend” but unless fighting around the capital Tripoli stops, the country risks “descending into a civil war which could lead to the permanent division of the country”.

That was the blunt assessment of UN Special Representative to Libya, Ghassan Salamé,  who also heads the UNSMIL Support Mission, briefing the Security Council on Tuesday, following weeks of intensifying conflict in and around the outskirts of Tripoli, instigated by the self-styled Libyan National Army forces of General Khalif Haftar who also leads a parallel administration based in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Mr. Salamé said grimly, that he had spent two years hoping to avoid having to deliver such a bleak in-person briefing to the Council, noting there were already 460 dead – 29 civilians – since the offensive began in early April. More than 2,400 have been injured, and 75,000 forced from their homes, the majority civilians, with half of the displaced women and children.

Violence began on the eve of an UN-backed National Conference planned to bring more than 150 representatives together from across the country, which had to be postponed. “There was great public excitement about what the conference could yield” said the top UN official, “in terms of a way forward to end Libya’s eight-year long period of transition” which threw him “into the deepest level of sadness for the opportunity lost”.

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Tripoli violence could spark ‘long and bloody war’ across region

“I am no Cassandra” he added, referencing the mythical Greek figure who uttered prophesies which nobody believed, “but the violence on the outskirts of Tripoli is just the start of a long and bloody war…imperilling the security of Libya’s immediate neighbours and the wider Mediterranean”.

Mr. Salamé noted that in southern Libya, terrorist group Daesh, or ISIL, was flying its distinctive black flags, and reportedly had been responsible for four attacks, killing a total of 17, with more than 10 wounded, and eight others kidnapped, since Libya’s militias turned their guns on each other this year, not the common extremist threat.

“There are numerous reports of extremists, persons under international sanctions, and individuals wanted by the International Criminal Court appearing on the battlefield on all sides. All parties must publicly disassociate themselves from such elements without delay and refer to the ICC those for whom arrest warrants have been issued”, he said.

He bemoaned the flow of weapons back into the country noting “many countries” were providing arms to all sides. “Without a robust enforcement mechanism, the arms embargo into Libya will be come a cynical joke. Some nations are fuelling this bloody conflict; the United Nations should put an end to it”, he added.

Turning to the humanitarian needs he said health facilities were struggling to cope, with 11 ambulances “directly hit” by airstrikes, rockets and shelling. “I am appalled by the apparent disregard for the due protection of personnel engaging in vital medical tasks”, he noted, expressing deep concern for the rise in abductions, disappearances and arbitrary arrests in the past 6 weeks. He called on the Council’s “unequivocal support” in applying International Humanitarian Law.

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UN remains ‘alongside the Libyan people’

Mr. Salamé said despite scaling-down non-essential UN staff in Tripoli and Benghazi, “we remain in Libya alongside the Libyan people to deliver as best we can”, with over 42,000 receiving aid so far. He said through local democratic elections held since 30 March, the people were showing their stoical resolve too, saying it was “vital to keep the pilot light of democracy alive”, and appealed for Council support to “the municipal election process.”

“There is no military solution” he reiterated, “and it is high time for those who have harboured this illusion to open their eyes and adjust themselves to this reality. Libya’s mosaic of communities cannot be governed without alliances and relationships stretching across the whole country”. He said Libyans would need to adjust in light of the attempts to take Tripoli by force since 4 April.

“A better future is still possible, but we all must be seized with the fierce urgency of now, while the front lines remain on the outskirts of Tripoli, and before the battle moves, God forbid, to the capital’s more densely populated neighbourhoods. This will require concerted and immediate action by the international community”.

He concluded with a call for the Council to act immediately, in support of politics over any military solution. “Full civil war in Libya is not inevitable. It may occur by the will of some parties, and by the inaction of others. I hear Libyans resigning themselves to a conflict of many months or even many years. My duty, and

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that of this family of nations, is to tell them: ‘No. You need to stop the fighting and stop it now, for the sake of your loved ones, for the sake of your country, and for the sake of international peace and security.”

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FG, States, LG’s Received N716.2bn In December 2019

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The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) has shared a sum total of N716.298 billion to the Federal Government, States and Local Government Councils for December 2019.

The Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Henshaw Ogubike, in a statement  said the total sum comprised revenue from Value Added Tax (VAT), Exchange Gain and the Statutory Revenue.

Henshaw stated that from the total revenue, the Federal Government received N287.929 billion, the State Governments received N191.302 billion, and the Local Government Councils received N143.698 billion.

Oil Producing States received N50.279 billion as 13 percent derivation revenue and the Revenue Generating Agencies received N43.089 billion as the cost of revenue collection.

The statement reads, “A breakdown of the distribution showed that from the gross statutory revenue of N600.314 billion, the Federal Government received N271.361 billion, the State Governments received N137.638 billion, the Local Government Councils received N106.113 billion, the Oil Producing States received N50.149 billion as 13% derivation revenue and the Revenue Collecting Agencies received N35.053 billion as cost of collection.

“From the Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue of N114.806, the Federal Government received N16.015 billion, the State Governments received N53.386 billion, the Local Government Councils received N37.369 billion and the Revenue Generating Agencies received N8.036 billion as cost of revenue collection.”

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It added that in December 2019, there were significant increases in revenues from Companies Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT) Oil and Gas Royalties and Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT), while import duty increased marginally.

Meanwhile, as of January 15, 2020, the balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) was $324.968 million.

 

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Nigeria, Ghana, Others Reject Eco Common Currency

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No fewer than Six Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries on Thursday rejected the move by eight other francophone nations in the region to adopt the Eco common currency.

Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, all English-speaking countries and Guinea, the only francophone country, criticized the move by Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo who had agreed to change the name of their common currency, CFA francs to Eco.

At an extraordinary meeting of the Ministers of Finance and Economy, and the Governors of Central Banks in the West African Monetary Zone, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said that the declaration is not in line with the decisions of ECOWAS Heads of States.

“While the meeting applauds the decision of the francophone West African countries to the link, the meeting also noted with concern, the declaration by his Excellency, Alassane Ouattara, Chairman of the authority of the Heads of States and Governments of the West African Economy and Monetary Union on the 21st December 2019 to unilaterally rename the CFA francs as eco by the year 2020.

“WAMZ Convergence council wishes to emphasize that this action is not in line with the decision of the authorities of the heads of states and government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the eco as the name of an independent ECOWAS single currency.”

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At the end of the meeting, delegates recommended that an extraordinary general meeting of ECOWAS heads of state and governments in the West African Monetary Zone be convened to discuss the matter.

“The council reiterates the importance for all ECOWAS member countries to adhere to the decisions of the ECOWAS authority heads of states and government towards the implementation of the revised roadmap of the ECOWAS single currency programme.

“The council recommends that an extraordinary summit of the authority of the heads of state and government of the WAMZ member state be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues.”

In December 2019, the adoption of Eco common currency by the eight francophone countries was lauded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), showing readiness to engage with the regional authorities, owing to its proven track record in the conduct of monetary policy and external reserve management.

Ghana had in December, lauded the move and said that the country is determined to do whatever they can to join the Member States of UEMOA soon.

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Ibadan schools demolition: Oyo govt to investigate, prosecute offenders

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The Government of Oyo State said on Friday that it has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the illegal demolition of classrooms in two state-owned Primary schools within Ibadan metropolis.

Information had reached the Government early on Thursday to the effect that some unknown individuals in Egbeda and Ona-Ara Local Government Areas of the State illegally entered the premises of two primary schools and demolished blocks of classrooms.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa,  indicated that the Governor had promised to prosecute the perpetrators.

The statement indicated that some individuals had unlawfully entered the premises of the Community Primary School, Ayepe, in Egbeda Local Government Area and Methodist Primary School, Gangansi in Ona-Ara Local Government Area, where they demolished blocks of classroom without authorization.

The Government described the act as illegal, untoward and totally condemnable, adding that it would not sit down and watch saboteurs destroy public properties for whatever reasons.

According to the statement, the individuals who destroyed the classrooms got no approval from the State Universal Basic Education Board, which holds the schools in trust for the Government and the people.

“While the State Government is desirous of working with good-spirited members of the society in managing public infrastructure, the administration will not condone lawlessness and failure to adhere to due process,” the statement read.

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The statement added: “The Government frowns on the demolition of blocks of classrooms at the Community Primary School, Ayepe and Methodist Primary School, Gangansi in Egbeda and Ona-Ara Local Government Areas respectively by some hoodlums purportedly on the order of a National Assembly member from the state.

“The act, to say the least, is untoward, illegal and totally condemnable. No one, no matter how highly placed, is allowed to unlawfully enter a public school premises and demolish buildings under whatever guise without approval from Government.

“We see this as an act of provocation and lawlessness and as a Government; we will not sit down and watch some lawless individuals have their ways in sabotaging Government by destroying school properties or embarking on renovations of public property using lawless means simply for political showmanship.

“Governor Seyi Makinde has mandated the relevant security agencies to commence investigation into the circumstances that led to the demolition of the classrooms in the two aforementioned schools.

“The Governor has also given directives that the law enforcement should bring the perpetrators to justice so as to serve as deterrents to other individuals who may want to follow such path of lawlessness.

“Governor Makinde has said it times and again that his administration is open to working with public-spirited individuals to bring about massive improvement in the infrastructure in the education and other sectors in the State. But that partnership must follow due process.

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“Any individual or politician with the intention to collaborate in building infrastructure in Oyo State schools should know that the schools are public properties under the trust of the Government and they should approach the Government for appropriate approvals.

“Anything short of this is lawlessness and as a Government that has sworn to defend the laws of the land, the Government of Oyo State is ever ready to put every tendency towards lawlessness under the check of the long arms of the law.”

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