By Nihal Zaroug and Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 13 July 2013:
The Prime Minister’s Office has launched an initiative for the month of Ramadan, . . .[restrict]called: “Your question to the Prime Minister,” which encourages people to send queries to Prime Minister Ali Zeidan through the Government’s Facebook page. Videoed responses are then posted on the Government’s You Tube Channel.
The first question was from a young man who asked: “Why has there been a delay in taking care of the youth?” stressing that they are the ones who will rebuild the country.
Zeidan answered that there had been “no delays.” Some young people were being sent abroad for training, including to France, the UAE and Italy, he said, while others were undertaking training in Libya. He added that, in the coming years, 15,000 of the country’s youth would travel for training in various fields.
The Prime Minster pointed to the police and military as vehicles for engaging young people and training them to become policemen and soldiers. Some 5,000 troops are to be trained in Italy and 2,000 soldiers will be heading to the UK for ten-week courses in basic infantry and leadership skills.
Zeidan also stressed that the Ministry of Youth and Sport, and the Ministry of Culture had many programmes which focused on the advancement of young people from across the country. He said that education and training would play an integral part in the development of the young and, with time, the efforts of the Government would become visible.
The second question, from a woman, related to the country’s mounting refuse problem. She asked the Prime Minister to contract companies and ensure garbage collectors were paid high salaries, as is the case in other countries. The duties performed by cleaners were essential to the hygiene of nation, she added.
Zeidan admitted that rubbish had been allowed to accumulate over the last two years. In Tripoli and Benghazi, he said, local companies had been contracted to clean downtown areas. They have three months to prove their capabilities and, if they can’t manage, he said, the government would seek foreign contractors to get the job done.
He urged local workers to be organised and committed to their jobs, adding that the Government would stabilise their salaries. Employees of the General Company for Cleaning Tripoli (GCCT), however, worried that a Turkish firm will be given the contract, staged a protest outside the Prime Minister’s office on Monday.
Zeidan agreed with the woman, that cleanliness was an important issue and said, thus far, local companies had been performing well. He said he would continue using local labour, as promoting the private sector was vital.
The third question came from a young boy, who simply stated that he no longer wanted “bullets and fireworks.” Zeidan praised the boy for his awareness and said he did not want such things either. He did not elaborate on how the Government planned to address these issues.
It is hoped that the Prime Minister will move up a gear to answer questions about his vision and plans. Details of a strategy and timeline for improved security, demobilising armed militias, disarming the general public, and creating an army and police force are subjects of major interest. There are also sure to be questions about the stalled infrastructure projects and plans for increasing oil production.
The media departments of all government ministries were trained in June by international experts. This new proactive effort by Zeidan could be part of a move to improve the quality and quantity of communication with the general public.
Despite saying back in March that he was looking for the right person, Zeidan has so far resisted calls to appoint an official spokesperson.
Equally, he still avoids giving one-to-one interviews to the media, where he could be questioned in detail about the government’s policies and performance, preferring a more controlled weekly press conference where he fields only five questions.
To pose a question for Prime Minister Ali Zeidan go to: www.facebook.com/LibyanGovernment [/restrict]