Libyan Rebels Reject Talks with PM, Keep Oil Ports Shut

From REUTERS

(Reuters) – Rebels occupying major oil ports in eastern Libya said on Wednesday they would boycott Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq and keep two major export terminals shut for now, a blow to efforts to restore vital oil exports.

The rebels even warned they would take action if Tripoli did not fulfill its part of a recent agreement to reopen the oil ports, a veiled threat to close the terminals again.

“Nothing has been implemented,” said Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, self-declared prime minister of the rebel movement.

He accused the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists in parliament of undermining the agreement and trying to take over the ports.

The struggle over energy wealth is part of growing turmoil in the North African country three years after the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Maiteeq’s predecessor, Abdullah al-Thinni, reached an agreement with the rebels to reopen four of the ports, although only the smaller facilities, Hariga and Zueitina, have been handed over to government forces.

Both sides agreed to hold further talks over the larger Ras Lanuf and Es Sider exports terminals.

Barassi said the rebels would not deal with Maiteeq, claiming he had not come to power legally. The businessman was sworn in on Sunday after a chaotic election in parliament that was disputed by many deputies.

“Mr. Abdullah al-Thinni needs to explain or appoint someone to say why there is this delay and why the agreement has not been implemented,” Barassi told a rebel television station.

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