Libya to take control of borders from militias

AFP reports: Libya’s government said Wednesday it is preparing to take over control of its border crossings and airports, including in Tripoli, from former rebels that fought to oust Moamer Kadhafi.

Government spokesman Nasser al-Manaa said the topic was discussed at a meeting on Tuesday between the government, the ruling National Transitional Council and militia leaders.

After the meeting, “the thwars (former rebels) agreed to provide the airports and border points” to the authorities, Manaa told a news conference in the Libyan capital.

“The government will today begin the process of taking control” of these facilities, including Tripoli airport and the port of Misrata, in an “important step to strengthen confidence in the state,” he said.

BBC News reports: Two British journalists who were detained by a Libyan militia group last month have been handed over to the Libyan Interior Ministry.

Nick Davies-Jones and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson work for the Iranian news channel Press TV.

They were detained on 22 February and accused of working in the country illegally.

The UK embassy in Tripoli said it was following developments closely and providing full consular support.

The sister of Mr Montgomery-Johnson, Mel Gribble, said the UK Foreign Office had confirmed to her that the two men were no longer being held by the militia.

Bloomberg reports: Libya’s bourse, closed for more than a year as armed conflict ended Muammar Qaddafi’s four- decade rule, resumes trading of nine stocks today and aims to list at least three more in 2012 as the economy stabilizes.

The Libyan Stock Exchange, whose average daily trading totaled no more than 400,000 dinars ($318,000) a day prior to closing in February 2011, will trade most of the 12 previously listed shares such as United for Insurance, General Manager Ahmed Karoud said in an interview yesterday. Three to four initial public offerings are likely this year, he said.

Libya, North Africa’s biggest oil producer, has restored 75 percent of pre-war production levels, pumping as much as 1.2 million barrels a day, Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib said this month. The economy, which the International Monetary Fund said in January may have contracted by 60 percent last year, is projected to recover in 2012, “concurrent with an improvement in the security situation,” the fund said.

“There’s stability in Libya,” Karoud said in an interview at his office yesterday. “The stock market will be one of the economic activities in the coming period in order to reconstruct Libya.”

The bourse, located in the capital Tripoli, remains small, with a market value of about $3.1 billion compared with $65.8 billion for the Egyptian market, North Africa’s biggest.

While the tumble in growth may have slowed, political tension remain. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of the National Transitional Council, said March 7 he is ready to defend national unity by force. His remarks came a day after political and tribal leaders declared a semi-autonomous region in the country’s oil-rich east.

“We are going to require more stability in the country — this is a must,” Rami Sidani, the Dubai-based head of Middle East and North Africa investments at Schroder Investment Management, said by telephone yesterday. “We perceive Libya as a great place that offers great growth potential eventually but we believe it’s at a very early stage given the political uncertainty we see at the moment.”

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