By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 9 August 2017:
In a surprise move, the head of the Presidency Council (PC), Faiez Serraj, flew to Zintan this morning for meetings with local officials. He was accompanied by his education minister, Otman Abdul-Jalil, the minister with responsibility for martyrs and the wounded, Muhanad Younis, and the deputy ministers of health, transportation and local government as well as a number of senior government officials.
Despite Zintan normally supporting the Libyan National Army, the Thinni administration in Beida and the House of Representatives (HoR), Serraj and his delegation were warmly welcomed by Mayor Mustafa Barouni, the town’s two HoR members, Abdussalam Nassiyah and Omar Abu Kadr Karmil, and other local officials and dignitaries.
In June the two HoR members invited Serraj to visit the town.
Speaking to the council, Serraj said that the rights of the displaced had to be respected – a reference to the estimated 20,000 people now in Zintan who fled Tripoli after the Libya Dawn regime took over the city in 2014. Serraj met representatives from them in June.
He spoke, too, about the rights and needs of the town’s war wounded.
He also declared that the country’s sovereignty would not be compromised and that migrants would not be resettled in Libya – a reference to the row about Italian naval vessels being allowed into Libyan waters to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean.
“There is no better place than the city of jihad and the revolution to send a message to all Libyans in response to the issue of sovereignty, that we have not and will not enter into any agreement or understanding that touches on national sovereignty or the idea of resettlement in any form,” he declared.
Speaking to the Libya Herald afterwards, Barouni said that Zintan was facing a number of serious issues which mostly came down to money.
“We don’t have any”, he said.
The biggest problem, he explained, was water. Water had had to be driven in by tanker for several months because of damage to the main water pipeline between Zintan and Gharyan. Money was needed to repair it and for pumps, the mayor said.
Asked if he was optimistic after Serraj’s visit, Barouni said that he hoped it would make a difference. Serraj had been asked about helping repair the water supply system, Barouni explained, to which Serraj had said that he would try to find a solution.
“He promised he will help us but he also said that he does not have a lot of money.”
The visit is part of a drive by the PC to build working relationships with municipal councils across Libya. Last week, Serraj was in the town of Wazen to meet the mayors and officials from the country’s Amazigh towns. A few days earlier he met the acting mayor of Tobruk. Sources in the local government ministry have told this newspaper that there have been several meetings with other eastern towns but that they were not publicised.