By Jamie Prentis,
Tunis, 13 January 2018:
Eastern Libya authorities have swiftly denounced the news that a seized explosives-ridden vessel loaded in Turkey and allegedly headed for Misrata, in violation of the UN arms embargo.
The Libyan National Army (LNA) urged the UN, EU, Arab League, African Union and wider international community to consider it a war crime “committed and sponsored” by Turkey.
The LNA also reiterated that it had long been “suspicious” of Turkey’s terror supporting role in Libya and the wider region.
Greek authorities confirmed yesterday they had apprehended the crew of Andromeda after officials confiscated 29 containers of explosives and 11 LPG tanks. The Tanzanian-flagged ship had been loaded at Turkey’s Iskenderum and Mersin ports.
In a statement passed to the Libya Herald by spokesman Abdullah Belhieg, the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), echoed the LNA view.
“The (HoR) condemns in the strongest terms the attempt to provide extremist groups with a large quantity of explosive materials capable of destroying and annihilating an entire city.”
It criticised the violation of the UN arms embargo and called on them to investigate.
The foreign ministry of the Presidency Council and the Beida-based interim government also decried the news.
While the PC’s foreign ministry was slightly more reserved as it called on the authorities to verify what had happened, it was still “disturbed by the news”. Libya remained committed to the UN arms embargo, it added.
Interim foreign minister Mohamed Dayri, called it a “criminal act.” He was quoted as saying Turkey had showed its support for terrorism and that Libya would implement concrete steps to stop them from doing further damage in the future.
Meanwhile, the Turkish embassy in Tripoli says that after initial checks in Turkey it has been established that the ship’s documentation and cargo were all in order. It said that the ship was destined for Ethiopia and not Misrata. The statement called upon the Greek authorities to publish the affidavits of the ship’s crew and ship’s documents.
The Turkish statement assured of its ongoing contact with the Serraj authorities and UN, and reconfirmed Turkey’s commitment to the UN Libya arms embargo.
It will be recalled that the main sides of Libya’s fractured political divide have agreed to holding elections in 2018. Whilst the full facts surrounding of the Tanzanian-flagged ship, the Andromeda, are yet to be established, some Libya analysts are worried that those who oppose the planned 2018 Libyan elections are planning some sort of ‘‘spoiler’’ campaign.