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Foreign Lobbying in Libya Undermines Security, Says Member of European Parliament

Ana Gomes, MEP, says competition among European powers over business interests in Libya is undermining the country’s security
Ms. Ana Gomes MEP, the European Parliament’s special rapporteur for Libya, has said foreign lobbying in Libya is putting the country’s security at risk and called on major European powers to abandon such practices, The Scotsman reported Thursday.

Ms. Gomes was reacting to the news that the security operations room of the European Union’s Libya mission was captured by gunmen during the brief abduction of the Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on 10 October.

“I know there are [commercial] advisers posted by different countries in the Libyan ministries,” the Portuguese socialist said as quoted by The Scotsman.

Ms. Gomes said Britain, France and Italy had officials in key ministries to compete for “commercial interests”.

She further accused London, Paris and Rome of sacrificing a common security policy in the interests of rival business contracts. “They don’t want a proper common defence and security policy, because they want to go about their own business,” she said. 

UK ambassador to Libya, Michael Aron, denied British officials in Libyan ministries lobbied for businesses. “We have a number of advisers in the interior, defence and justice ministries, at the invitation of the Libyan government. They are specifically excluded from commercial work,” he was quoted by The Scotsman as saying. 

But Mr. Aron admitted that Britain did have an official lobbying for UK defence contractors at the embassy, saying: “We do have in the embassy one person for the defence sales organisation, whose job is to promote defence exports.”

Ms. Gomes is also seeking more details from the EU Border Assistance Mission (Eubam) in Libya about the storming of its security operations room during the kidnapping of Mr Zeidan.

The mission, which advises on port and border security, is based in the same hotel, the Corinthian, as Mr Zeidan, and while hunting for the PM militiamen took over the operations room of the EU’s private security company, Argus Security Projects, disabling equipment.

The 40 EU staff locked themselves in their rooms but EU officials insist none were targeted, and armed guards remained to protect them. 

“None of the Eubam personnel were harmed or threatened. Nobody entered our offices but they did enter our security provider offices,” said an EU statement.

“I didn’t know about this incident with Eubam,” said Ms Gomes. “We need an inquiry.”

Last year Brussels scrapped a multi-million pound security contract for its Tripoli mission with British firm G4S after the company failed to get a licence from Libya. 

According to The Scotsman, the EU says a new security contractor will begin work in Libya in November, deploying 54 guards, 18 armoured jeeps and a field ambulance.

The Tripoli Post

This article was originally published here.

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