Libya’s rival parties are conducting consultative talks in Morocco, as part of international efforts to restart political negotiations in the troubled country.
The two-day meetings began on Sunday between a delegate from the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and another from the parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk.
The Tripoli-based administration said the meeting was positive and aimed at reviving the political dialogue between the Libyan parties.
Parliament spokesperson Abdullah Belhaq said the goal of these two-day talks is limited to “reaching understandings about the distribution of sovereign positions” before taking the results back to the United Nations-sponsored talks.
The meetings in Morocco come after the GNA announced a ceasefire and called on its allied forces to comply with it last month.
However, the eastern-based forces led by Khalifa Haftar, who is allied with the parliament, dismissed the truce as a manoeuvre by the GNA as their forces plan to attack the strategic cities of Sirte and al-Jufra, currently under the control of Haftar’s loyalists.
Oil-wealthy Libya has been in turmoil since a 2011 revolt toppled long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi.
The North African country has become a battleground for rival proxy forces.
In 2015, Morocco hosted peace talks, which led to the creation of the UN-backed government in Tripoli.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Egyptian president warns forces loyal to GNA against crossing ‘Red Line’ in Libya
“Egypt is bent on supporting Libyans to rid their country of armed militias and terrorist organisations and putting an end to the blatant interference of some regional parties (in Libya).
“As we have declared before and reiterate today, any breach to the line extending between the towns of Sirte and Jufra, previously demarcated as a red line, will be furiously faced by Egypt in defense of its people and its national security,” Sisi said in his address late on Tuesday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
The president has renewed the call on Libya’s warring parties to find a comprehensive political solution to the fatal armed confrontation in the North African country under UN auspices.
According to the president, the settlement should be based on the 2015 Skhirat Agreement, the results of the Berlin conference, held in January of this year, and the Cairo Declaration, also known as the Cairo initiative.
The Cairo initiative was presented by Egypt in early summer of 2020 and, among other matters, includes a complete ceasefire in Libya starting on June 8, and the terms for a political solution.
The initiative was supported by Russia, the United States and several Arab countries, but rejected by Turkey and its ally, the GNA.
Sisi had previously claimed that Cairo would not stand idle if the GNA’s forces crossed the “red line” — by entering the city of Sirte — and would not allow destabilization in eastern Libya, which is under the control of the Tobruk-based parliament and the LNA.
On July 20, the Egyptian parliament unanimously approved the possible dispatch of troops to carry out military operations outside the country.
It came after Sisi stated that his country had an internationally legitimate right to intervene in Libya and come to the aid of the eastern administration.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Oil down after United States crude inventories rise against expectations
Oil prices fell on Wednesday after an industry group reported a surprise rise in United States crude, adding to worries about demand that led to a steep selloff earlier in the week.
Brent crude was trading down 30 cents or 0.7 per cent at $41.42 a barrel by 0347 GMT, after gaining 28 cents on Tuesday while United States crude dropped 34 cents or 0.9 per cent to $39.46.
Both contracts fell more than four per cent on Monday, the most in two weeks.
Surging cases of coronavirus infections in countries including France and Spain, along with the likelihood of more restrictions in Britain have renewed worries about fuel demand, just as more supply may come onto the market from Libya.
In the United States, where the death toll from COVID-19 has passed 200,000, the world’s highest, crude oil inventories rose by 691,000 barrels in the week to Sept. 18, according to industry data, compared with analysts’ forecasts for a drop of 2.3 million barrels.
Gasoline stocks fell by nearly 7.7 million barrels, nearly eight times expectations suggesting some demand for fuel in the world’s biggest oil consuming nation.
Official data from the Energy Information Administration is due out later on Wednesday.
“Official United States crude inventory data assumes greater than usual importance,’’ said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“A surprise increase could well be enough to initiate another downward leg in crude prices.’’
In Libya, the National Oil Company expects oil output to rise to more than a quarter of a million barrels per day (bpd) by next week, it said on Tuesday.
The NOC said it was restarting exports from the Zueitinia oil terminal after checking the security situation at the port and fields that pipe crude there.
An escalation in the country’s conflict led to a blockade of facilities, which is now easing, although analysts say they don’t expect Libya to reach the 1.2 million bpd of production it was pumping previously.
This year, “world oil demand will be down by more than 10 per cent on the year to around 90 million barrels per day (bpd) due to the COVID-19 crisis,’’ Eurasia Group said in a note.
“This will mark the biggest demand shock in industry history,’’ it said.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
UNGA Debate: Buhari urges global action against small arms
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday night urged the international community to take strong action against illicit flows of small arms and light weapons.
Addressing the virtual United Nations General Assembly through a pre-recorded video statement, Buhari said Nigeria was deeply concerned over the menace.
“Nigeria remains deeply concerned over the illicit trade, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons, particularly on the continent of Africa.
“We urge the international community to renew efforts to stem this traffic and promote the Arms Trade Treaty.
“This is to codify accountability in the on-going battle against trans-border crimes, including terrorism and acts of piracy,” he said.
The president also reminded the world of the “litany of terrorist attacks across the globe”, saying it is a “harsh reality of the challenges the world is facing today”.
He emphasised that the problem could only be solved through international collaboration and solidarity.
“In Nigeria, we are still facing violent extremism from the insurgency of Boko Haram and bandits.
“We continue to count on our strong cooperation with UN counter-terrorism bodies and neighbouring countries to overcome the terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin and the wider Sahel Region.
“We will vigorously sustain the rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement of victims of terrorism and insurgency in the North-East.
“The North-East Development Commission has been established for that purpose,” he said.
Buhari also stated Nigeria’s position on other global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, illicit financial flows and nuclear proliferation.
On COVID-19, the president joined other world leaders at the forum in calling for “uninhibited supply of safe and effective coronavirus vaccines for all.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the call for global solidarity against the pandemic featured prominently in all the statements delivered on Tuesday.
The developing world has been watching helplessly as some wealthy countries pre-order millions of doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies.
This move, which has come to be known as “vaccine nationalism”, is a source of concern to the UN and other stakeholders.
They fear that this would leave the poor countries thereby undermine efforts to end the pandemic.
In his statement earlier in the day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted that “vaccine nationalism” is not only unfair but also self-defeating.
Buhari decried the lack of global solidarity in the battle, urging the UN to “marshal an inclusive response to the pandemic”.
According to him, failure by the orgainsation in this direction means failure in its “core mission of giving expression, direction and solution to the yearnings of the international community.”
Turning to illicit financial flows, he called for an overhaul of existing international structures that undermine countries’ efforts to “generate and retain their financial resources”.
Speaking further, the president expressed Nigeria’s commitment to ongoing efforts by the UN to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
He said: “We recall the adoption of the landmark Treaty on The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which opened for signature on 20 September 2017.
“Nigeria participated actively in the processes leading to its adoption and was an early signatory and ratifier.
“With less than ten ratifications needed for the TPNW’s entry into force, we urge other member states who have not done so to quickly ratify the Treaty for the actualization of its important objective.”
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
UNGA Debate: Buhari advocates uninhibited supply of safe coronavirus vaccines to all
President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria will continue to partner with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and some countries to ensure accelerated development, manufacturing and uninhibited supply of safe and effective coronavirus vaccines to all.
Buhari stated this on Tuesday night while delivering Nigeria’s National Statement via video link on the first day of the 75th session of the Uníted Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The President pledged Nigeria’s commitment to working with member states in the spirit of global cooperation and solidarity to promote human health and general well-being.
The theme of this year’s General Assembly is ”The Future We Want, The United Nations We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism- Confronting Coronavirus Through Effective Multilateral Action.”
The Nigerian leader described the theme of the conference as most appropriate and timely, saying that it captured the common desire for a renewed and revitalised UN in need of multilateral approaches to the many challenges facing the world.
”As we reflect on the future we want and the United Nations we need, we must realise that the people of the world not only look up to us: they count on us.
”If the United Nations system cannot mobilise the world to marshal out a truly effective and inclusive response to the coronavirus pandemic, then the United Nations would have failed in the core mission of giving expression, direction, and solution to the yearnings of the international community.
”The future we want must guarantee human rights, human dignity, human prospects and prosperity.
”The principles of ‘Leaving No One Behind and Doing No Harm’ must be expressed through accountability, strategic growth initiatives, and elimination of threats of all kinds,” he said.
He said that in order to give hope for a bright future and prosperity for all Nigerians, his administration had embarked on measures aimed at ensuring national resilience.
”We intend to achieve this through the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Medium Term National Development for the periods 2020-2025, and 2026-2030.
”We expect that these ambitious initiatives will deliver sustainable economic growth and development to Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking on the coronavirus pandemic, Buhari stressed the need for effective multilateral actions aimed at tackling the situation.
He expressed concern that the pandemic had devastated the world economy and strained the capabilities of health systems of many countries, including Nigeria.
“In the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, we prioritised vulnerable groups, including women, children, older persons, and the unemployed, in our efforts to provide medical and social assistance to cushion the socio-economic effects of the disease.
”Accordingly, we have expanded our National Social Register to include an additional one million Nigerians.
”Our National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) has been the vehicle for reaching out to the poor and vulnerable members of the Nigerian population, as well as providing cover for over 12 million households,” he said.
While applauding the UN and WHO for the efforts they put in to help combat the pandemic, Buhari noted with appreciation the two billion dollars Global Response Plan launched by the UN Secretary-General to fund the coronavirus response in the poorest countries.
He also applauded the Secretary-General’s call for a cease-fire in conflict areas so that humanitarian assistance could reach groups vulnerable to the virus.
On poverty eradication in Nigeria, the president said that in order to mitigate its impact, his administration had embarked upon the disbursement of N10.9 billion to households engaged in Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises as palliatives.
According to him, an additional N500 billion fiscal stimulus package as well as sustained delivery of humanitarian and social interventions to cater to poor and vulnerable households have been established.
He added that the Central Bank of Nigeria had also launched a N3.5-trillion-stimulus package to boost manufacturing and facilitate import substitution.
The Nigerian leader then urged the international community to complement efforts being made to address poverty, particularly in developing countries.
In this regard, he commended the outgone President of the 74th General Assembly, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, for launching an Alliance for Poverty Eradication in June.
He enjoined global leaders, particularly from the global North, to support the alliance at a time when ”the COVID-19 is reversing gains made toward the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and pushing an additional half a billion people into extreme poverty.”
On disarmament, international peace and security, Buhari said ”Nigeria remains deeply concerned over the illicit trade, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons, particularly on the continent of Africa.”
He, therefore, called on the international community to renew efforts that would help stem such activities and promote the Arms Trade Treaty in order to codify accountability in the battle against trans-border crimes, including terrorism and acts of piracy.
On terrorism and counter-terrorism, the president urged world leaders to redouble efforts at ensuring collective security, saying that the litany of sophisticated terrorist attacks across the globe “is a harsh reality of the challenges the world is facing today.”
”In Nigeria, we are still facing violent extremism from the insurgency of Boko Haram and bandits.
”We continue to count on our strong cooperation with UN counter-terrorism bodies and neighbouring countries to overcome the terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin and the wider Sahel Region.
”We will vigorously sustain the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and resettlement of victims of terrorism and insurgency in the North East.
“The North-East Development Commission has been established for that purpose,” he said.
On illicit financial flows, Buhari said that global aspiration to recover from the impact of COVID-19 would not be fully met without addressing structures making it more difficult for countries to generate and retain their financial resources.
In this regard, the president again thanked Muhammad-Bande as well as the immediate past President of the Economic and Social Council, Amb. Mona Jul, for jointly launching the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) for Achieving the 2030 Agenda.
Meanwhile, a statement by Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman, indicates that Buhari also spoke on other issues that are of interest to Nigeria.
Adesina said that speaking on climate change, the Nigerian leader reiterated his country’s commitment to revitalising Lake Chad.
”We are convinced that recharging the Lake will improve the living conditions of our people in the area, promote inter-state cooperation, strengthen community resilience, and assist in addressing environmental as well as security challenges threatening the region and its resources,” he said.
Buhari, therefore, renewed his call for international support for the regional efforts being made to raise 50 billion dollars required to revitalise the lake.
On quality education, Buhari announced that Nigeria would be hosting the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools in 2021.
”Quality education for all is the cornerstone of sustainable development.
”I invite you all to Nigeria to participate in the conference, which aims to advocate the protection of education from attack as we work together towards the future we want,” he said.
Buhari ended his speech at the virtual event by reaffirming Nigeria’s commitment to promoting international peace and security and sustainable development.
He also said that Nigeria remained committed to strengthening partnerships and cooperation with international organisations.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim