Southern Libya is planning to declare its indepence – Fezzan complains about discrimination and neglection
Germany's fourth-largest oil supplier faces a crucial test:
Two years after the fall of dictator Gaddafi, Libya now faces a crucial test: Next week, leaders of the ethnic groups of the Tuareg, Toubou and the Arabic population of the oil-rich south of the country will declare independence for the region of Fezzan. This was reported by the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) in Göttingen on Sunday. "If Germany doesn't want to lose Libya as an oil supplier, there must be more efforts to defend human rights, the rule of law and the economic development in southern Libya," warned STP-consultant Ulrich Delius. "If the dispute regarding the federalization movement in Libya escalates further, the oil exports will be affected too." 9% of the German oil supplies are imported from the North-African country, making it the fourth-largest oil supplier.
Last Thursday, about 120 representatives of the Tuareg, Toubou and the Arabic population had met in the town of Obari (southern Libya) to discuss prospects for a self-administration of the Fezzan region. In case the Lybian government refuses to compromise, it is planned to declare the independence of Fezzan at a conference next week. Arabic nationalists in Lybia reject European autonomy models for fear that the they might cause the country to be separated. They are trying to stop the federalization at all costs.
The Tuareg, Toubou and Arabic people from southern Libya are demanding more political participation and more benefits from the oil industry profits. The region is economically underdeveloped and was neglected for decades. The Tuareg and Toubou criticize that they will only have two representatives each in the Libyan Constituent Assembly. The Tuareg accuse the authorities of racism, because the 14,000 Tuareg living in southern Libya are denied naturalization, although their peoples have been living in the area for decades. The Fezzan region is inhabited by Tuareg, Toubou, and Arabic population groups – and they all criticize the lawlessness that has spread in southern Libya since the fall of the Gaddafi regime. The army doesn't show much presence and the police forces don't even dare to patrol several neighborhoods or villages that are controlled by militias or criminal gangs – and many judges are afraid to condemn defendants in court.
During the last few months, the oil production in Libya had repeatedly come to a standstill because of strikes and occupied oil production facilities – also by Toubou and Tuareg in southern Libya. Next to the eastern part of the country, the Fezzan region and its oil production sites near Obari and the Murzuq basin are to be seen as the most important oil reserves in the country. In the Cyrenaica – also in the eastern part of the country – there had been calls for self-determination too. The Cyrenaica was declared to be an independent region in July 2013.