By Hadi Fornaji
Tripoli, 18 May 2013:
The upsurge in violence in Benghazi comes as the government is redoubling efforts to head off . . .[restrict]federalist sentiments in Cyrenaica. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is reported by civil society organisations in the city to have repeat his government’s plans to relocate “economic institutions” from Tripoli.
This means principally Libya Airlines and the National Oil Company. The LA and the NOC were both founded and thereafter headquartered in Benghazi until the Qaddafi era.
Zeidan had travelled to Benghazi after the bomb explosion outside the Jala’a hospital and then flown on to overnight visit to Egypt, where he discussed closer economic cooperation and improve border security. He returned the next day to Benghazi for further discussions with civic leaders.
The reported upshot of his two visits to the city, according to civil society organisations, was the assurance on the relocation of the “economic institutions”. He is said to have gone so far as to ask the Benghazi authorities to select locations to which these organisations could move.
He also apparently gave a green light to the planned Industrial Zone and Exhibition and Fair Ground, two projects which are currently mired in legal disputes over the ownership of land involved.
In April, Economy Minister Mustafa Mohammed Abufunas, told the Libya Herald Business Eye that both these projects were evidence of the government’s commitment to devolving state organisations but added : “Whether these will satisfy Benghazi’s demands for greater economic commitment, which include returning the NOC to the city, remains to be seen.”
A further concession to the city appears to have been Zeidan’s agreement that Benghazi port, which has complained of a lack of investment funds from central government, will be permitted to keep all its revenues for reinvestment in capital projects. It was unclear how long this concession would last.
During one of his meetings, Zeidan is said to have telephoned Minister of Transport Abdel-Qader Mohamed Ahmed and asked him to come to Benghazi. He wanted him to work on the addition of facilities sought by city officials, that were not included in the original contract for the construction of the temporary terminal. [/restrict]