There have been demonstrations in Benghazi to protest at the decision of President Mohammed Magarief to give a $200 million development package to Tunisia.
Officials have said that the package is a loan, not a gift, and will be repaid to Libya in full; it is also being reported that the package comprises a $100-million loan, and a $100-million gift, but this has not been verified as yet.
Protestors described the move as "a waste of public money" and questioned whether the President had the authority to make such a decision.
“Qaddafi used to squander Libya’s wealth outside the country for the past 42 years”, one protester in Benghazi said. “Now it seems Magarief has come to carry on this legacy”.
But according to the report from Libya Herald, this deal was agreed upon several months ago, around the time that Tunisia agreed to extradite former Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi.
Benghazi Congressman Alaeddin Magarief commented:
"This is an old decision made by the NTC and the Kib Government. It was agreed just before the handover [from the NTC to the Congress]. There was some discomfort from GNC members at the time, but nothing we could have done, because it was already approved."
Mahmoudi was sent back to Libya on 24th June, just under a fortnight before the 7th July Congress elections. At the time, it was widely rumoured that a deal had been struck with the Tunisian government, but Tunisia’s Justice Minister Noureddine Bhiri vigorously denied any suggestions of a financial deal.
Whilst the Libya Herald has received no official confirmation that the package was directly linked to the Mahmoudi extradition, it is known that a similar deal was struck over the extradition of Qaddafi’s former spy chief Abdullah Senussi from Mauritania a little over two months later.
Coincidentally, it was rumoured at the time that the Libyan government had agreed to invest $200 million in the impoverished West African state, although the government denied that any direct payment had been made.
(Source: Libya Herald)