EU adds six ports to Libya sanctions list


The European Union said they had agreed to add six Libyan ports to the list of assets frozen in sanctions imposed on Muammar Gaddafi’s government.

“The council of the European Union adopted a decision today extending the assets freeze to six Libyan port authorities, in view of the gravity of the situation in the country,” said a statement from the European Council, which represents all EU governments.

The statement did not give any details of what form the sanctions would take, but EU officials say they will make it illegal for European-operated ships to do business with the port authorities, Reuters reports.

A one-month window has been left for existing contracts, one official said.

The EU has already imposed a travel ban and wide-ranging asset freeze.

An EU diplomat said last month that EU experts had agreed to put six ports — Tripoli, Zuara, Zawiyah, Al-Khoms, Ras Lanuf and Brega — on the sanctions list.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s government has been seeking to raise fuel imports by using a loophole in international sanctions after a campaign of Western air strikes against Libya.

Civil war has crippled the refining industry and Gaddafi urgently needs fuel imports for his military and to keep civilian vehicles running in the areas he controls.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said last month Britain saw scope for tightening sanctions on oil and oil products against Gaddafi and Britain has pushed the new sanctions initiative.

European Union, U.N. and U.S. sanctions against Libya have been implemented via a list of companies that must be excluded from business transactions, but exports to western Libya or dealings with firms missing from the list are not forbidden.

The idea to target ports follows a similar EU decision on the Ivory Coast in January, to pressure then incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to quit after a presidential election he was widely seen to have lost.

The discussions may also involve the Libyan state-owned shipping company General National Maritime Transport Company (GNMTC), which is not on the sanctions list and has managed to bring at least one fuel cargo into west Libya.