By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 5 December:
Only a day after being . . .[restrict]elected leader of Italy’s opposition centre-left Democratic Party on Sunday, Pier Luigi Bersani flew to Tripoli for talks with the president of Congress Mohamed Magarief and other political figures on joint relations. The whirlwind visit by the man widely expected to become Italy’s next prime, minister both surprised and pleased Libyan officials seeing it as Italian confirmation of a special relationship between the two countries.
The Democrat Party is ahead in the polls and given the divisions and scandals on the governing centre-right camp, it is expected to win the general election in the spring.
Accompanied by Lapo Pistelli, the head of the Democratic Party’s foreign affairs department and the man thought likely to become Italian Foreign Minister if the party wins the elections, the 61-year old Bersani also met with Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Mohamed Abdul Aziz and with 16 Congresswomen. Having arrived in Tripoli the early house of Tuesday, he flew back to Rome later in the day.
The cigar-smoking former communist is seen as having been an extremely capable Minister of Industry between 1996 and 1999 in the first Romano Prodi government and then as Minister of Transport in the subsequent government of Massimo D’Alema and as Minister of Economic Development between 2006 and 2008 in the second Prodi administration.