Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The Maltese government has been caught in the middle of a dispute between different factions in Libya which has spilled over to Malta and led to a protest in front of the Libyan Embassy in Malta.
In a press statement this afternoon, following a protest that was held in front of the Libyan embassy this morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Malta has acknowledged the legitimate government of Libya, the one elected democratically and which holds its parliamentary sessions in Tobruk. Meanwhile, the General National Congress has reconvened in Tripoli and it is also demanding that it is recognised as the official government. Both parliaments have their own Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The European Union and United Nations have declared that the akwnolwedged government should be the one of Tobruk. The United Nations is making an attempt to host a conference with representatives of both parliaments in a bid to find a solution, the ministry said.
In the absence of a Libyan ambassador, the Maltese Government was acknowledging a Charge D’Affairs which was not contested by either side, but subsequently, the government in Tripoli informed the Maltese government to remove the Charges D’Affairs and give accreditation to a representative from the government in Tripoli. The local government also received a Note Verbale from the Tobruk government not to acknowledge this representative and instead sent its own diplomat. The representative of the Tripoli government is occupying the embassy and does not want to make way for the diplomat sent from Tobruk.
Faced with this situation, the government consulted with the European Union and other Foreign Ministers. The Maltese government sould like to see the two factions reach a solution without being entangled in Libyan internal situations. However, the situation is not easy to resolve and the government is therefore holding meetings to reach a solution without there being more conflict between the two sides.
The government said the situation is developing continuously and both the ministry and the police are in contact for a peaceful settlement of the dispite.
A small group of Libyans gathered outside the Libyan embassy in Balzan this morning in what was a peaceful manifestation. As time goes by, more and more Libyans turned up outside the embassy until they all left at about noon.
The Libyan protestors are demanding that the current ambassador evacuates the embassy and leaves Malta within the next 72 hours.
The protesters left the embassy but said they will return tomorrow.
Police officers were also on site. Barricades were erected to protect the embassy building.
The protesters said that the Libyan ambassador should leave the embassy building to be replaced by his successor, who has already been named by the Libyan Tobruk government. The “new” ambassador is already in Malta and is presently staying in a leading hotel.
One of the protestors told The Malta Independent that the Tobruk ambassador has been recognised by the Maltese government. Together with the help of officials from the Maltese government, he is trying to persuade the other diplomat to leave the embassy peacefully, the protestor said.
The Malta Independent has called the Libyan embassy in an effort to speak to the ambassador, but we were told that he is not available today. We asked to speak to another representative but we were told that no-one was available.
A spokesman for the Maltese government said that it is monitoring the situation but was not in a position to comment any further.
It is not the first time that Libyans living in Malta have gathered outside the embassy to protest.
During the uprising against former leader Muammar Gaddafi, many Libyans used to meet outside the embassy to express their support for their fellow countrymen.
Photos Jonathan Borg, Footage Paul Jones