Libya oil blockade “a popular decision”


Eastern Libya’s foreign minister said his government, parallel to the internationally recognised administration in Tripoli, could not force eastern tribesmen to lift an oil blockade that was a “popular decision”.

“We cannot use our power to lift the blockade,” Abdulhadi Lahweej told journalists in Geneva, alleging the Tripoli government was using oil revenue to pay mercenaries he says have come from Syria.

He reiterated his side, led by eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, would not participate in political talks in Geneva on Wednesday, saying there was no agreement with the UN mission on the composition of their delegation.

“Participation for the moment is suspended,” he said.

The UN planned to bring together lawmakers from both sides of Libya’s conflict to end fighting over Tripoli as part of dialogue encompassing military, political and economic strands.

In a sign of the acrimony between the sides, Lahweej took aim at Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, who earlier this week called Haftar a “war criminal” at the UN Human Rights Council.

“The war criminal is one who accepts mercenaries to kill people and accepts pilots who kill civilians,” Lahweej said.