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East Libyan autonomy leader says will not reopen oil portsPublish Date: Dec 15, 2013
East Libyan autonomy leader says will not reopen oil ports
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Ibrahim Jathran

AJDABIYA - The leader of an autonomy movement in eastern Libya said on Sunday he will not order his militiamen to end the blockade of several oil-exporting ports, dashing hopes of ending a three-month standoff with the Tripoli government.

On Tuesday, the autonomy group said it would end its hold on the ports accounting previously for exports of 600,000 barrels a day (bpd) if Tripoli allowed it to take a share of oil sales and investigate claims of oil sale corruption.

"We have failed to reach a deal on these conditions with this (Tripoli) government," autonomy leader Ibrahim Jathran told reporters at his group's home base in Ajdabiya.

"I therefore confirm that we will not reopen the ports for this corrupt government," he said.

His group seized the Ras Lanuf, Es-Sider and Zueitina ports several months ago to boost its campaign for more regional autonomy and a greater share of oil sales.

Workers at several other oilfields are on strike, drying up the majority of Libya's oil exports, its main source of revenue.

There was no immediate comment from Tripoli. Officials have previously refused to recognise the self-declared eastern government and warned that the central government would attack any tanker trying to load oil at seized ports.

Libya remains in turmoil as the government struggles to rein in militias that helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and now control parts of the North African country.

A mix of militias, tribesmen and officials have seized oilfields and export terminals across the country, bringing exports down to 110,000 bpd from more than 1 million in July.

Libya needs dollars to fund imports of wheat and other basic foodstuffs, and the government has warned it will not be able to pay public sector workers if oil strikes continue.

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