US implementing development programmes in Libya

The US government still committed to assist Libya and its people, a USAID spoksperson says

A United States Agency for International Development (USAID) spokesperson today said that US government sponsored initiatives are still operative in Libya.

This week, the US government held a conference in Malta to discuss assistance to Libya, in which a number of USAID and other US government agencies participated. The workshop which lasted two days came to an end today.

The USAID representative said the US government was “still committed to assist Libya and its people,” adding that a number of local agents were implementing active programmes, including democracy and governance training at a municipal level.

“The US government is executing active programmes in the country, which are being implemented by local partners and Libyans.”

Although the US government has suspended all diplomatic activities in Libya, the spokesperson said that the programmes are being monitored remotely.

The agencies implementing the programmes include NGOs, private organisations and consulting firms.

On Wednesday, MaltaToday revealed that the US government is holding an internal conference. While denying reports of a “big conference” being organised by the US ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones, at the end of September, a US embassy spokesperson confirmed that the US is holding a conference this week in Malta.

“There are no high-level meetings on Libya scheduled to be held in Malta at this time. There is a long-planned, working-level, US government-internal conference on assistance to Libya taking place this week in Malta. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss how best to engage in Libya,” the embassy spokesperson said.

Last week, the Paris-based Maghreb Confidential, an online newspaper specialising in North African politics and business, reported that, “Malta has emerged as the most important place to discuss Libyan affairs”.

In the report, entitled ‘Malta as Libya’s new capital’, the newspaper said that Ambassador Jones, who has been stationed in Malta following the suspension of the US diplomatic mission in Tripoli, “is working to organise a big conference of Libya’s partner countries”.

The Libyan capital, currently occupied by the Islamist-led Libya Dawn, is suffering power and water cuts and this week Human Rights Watch reported a series of house-burnings and attacks on ethnic minorities and journalists across the capital.

Islamist-allied militias led by the Misrata clan have cemented their control in Tripoli after the worst spell of violence since rebels ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The fighting began after the June elections, in which Islamist candidates lost the majority they held in the previous parliament, and renegade general Khalifa Hifter began a military campaign against Islamist-allied militias in Libya’s second-largest city, Benghazi.

Meanwhile, fighters from the western region of Zintan and Misrata to the east of Tripoli, former allies during the NATO-backed campaign to oust Gaddafi, fell out and turned parts of Tripoli into a battlefield.

In late August, Libya’s former parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), appointed a new prime minister in a move which deepened the country’s political division, as warring factions vie for control of the oil-rich nation.

The GNC reconvened in Tripoli and elected Islamist-backed Omar al-Hassi as prime minister, in an attempt to replace the House of Representatives which was elected in June, effectively ending the political dominance that factions linked to the Muslim Brotherhood had in the previous legislature.

However, Malta and the rest of the international community recognise the House of Representatives as the legitimate Libyan parliament.