On Friday 25 May Libyan Prime Minister Abdurahim El-Keib concluded a two-day visit to the UK, his first since taking office last year.
Prime Minster El-Keib met the Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell and Home Office Minister James Brokenshire. He also met the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland and the Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary regarding Lockerbie.
The visit allowed detailed discussion of progress being made in Libya’s transition, and the challenges ahead. There were also detailed talks on the terrible legacy left by Qadhafi, including victims in both the UK and Libya, and how to take forward open investigations into various crimes. Qadhafi’s brutal regime left many victims in Libya and around the world. As part of marking respect to all those affected, Prime Minister El-Keib paid his respects to two victims of the Qadhafi regime by visiting the sites in London where WPC Yvonne Fletcher was shot in 1984 and the place outside Regent’s Park Mosque where Mohammed Mustafa Ramadan was shot in 1980.
As this visit has shown, the relationship between the UK and Libya has been transformed over the last year. Britain and Libya are now working together across a range of shared priorities: from security to development and prosperity. To coincide with the visit, agreements were signed on Health, education, cultural and civil society cooperation and on open government and information technology.
Prime Minister El-Keib also attended a business lunch hosted by Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green The meeting was an opportunity to discuss how UK businesses can support Libya as it looks to build a strong economy. PM El-Keib announced that an additional 10,000 Libyan scholarship students will be seeking places at UK universities.
Speaking following the visit, Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
“Libya has made remarkable progress in the last twelve months. Last year the UK stood shoulder to shoulder with the Libyan people in their struggle against dictatorship and fight for basic freedoms. We will continue to fully support the Transitional Government’s efforts to establish democratic government in Libya which is open, transparent and respects the rights of all its citizens. Challenges undoubtedly remain as Libya seeks to overcome years of misrule under Qadhafi. It is important that the new Libya shows respect for human rights and the rule of law, and I raised concerns about reports regarding the treatment of detainees in custody. It is also important that the government restores security to the streets and militias are properly reintegrated into society. PM El-Keib assured me that the Transitional government was committed to upholding human rights and was working to address such concerns. He further added that Libya will continue to take this matter seriously and that considerable progress had already been made.
“Prime Minister El-Keib and I discussed the political transition in Libya and the forthcoming elections. Whilst good progress is being made, it is important that preparations remain on track for polls to go ahead this summer. Indeed, over 20,000 Libyans in the UK are eligible to vote in the polls, and I encourage them to exercise this hard won right. I am proud that we have provided important assistance to this process, such as £1.5m to the UN as it assists the Libyan Election Commission’s preparations and funding for civil society groups to help them run voter education campaigns and train as domestic election observers”.
“Our bilateral relationship has changed beyond all recognition and will continue to strengthen. I welcome Prime Minister El-Keib’s agreement that the team investigating the murder of Yvonne Fletcher can return to Libya. On Lockerbie, Prime Minister El-Keib made clear that he recognised the seriousness of this crime and looked forward to further details from the investigators to take this issue forward “.
Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell, said:
“I told Prime Minister Al-Kib that I had been impressed by the progress the Transitional Government had made towards the upcoming elections and in improving security. He expressed his thanks for the role the UK had played in providing essential humanitarian aid to help those affected by the conflict.
“I noted that I was pleased to be providing Libya with a senior police adviser to assist the Ministry of the Interior with its work to improve policing and security. Through our Arab Partnership support to Arab Spring countries, we will also be funding a resident IMF adviser to help improve management and transparency in how public funds are spent.
“I also expressed my hope that Libya will look to access funding that we make available for economic development through the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and the African Development Bank.”
Speaking at the end of the visit, Prime Minister El-Keib said:
“I express my wholehearted appreciation and gratitude for the continued support of both the British people and government. Even in the midst of this transitional period, we continue to make a lot of progress, working positively together on a multitude of issues.
“Preparations for the upcoming elections are progressing: more than 2.5 million have registered to vote in Libya. This represents 72% of the eligible voters. We are happy that the UK is one of the 6 listed countries abroad which will see the Libyan Diaspora participate in Out of Country Voting. We thank Her Majesty’s Government for enabling this to take place, and for the generous contribution to the UN which will help us in conducting these historic elections.
“In addition to my meetings with Prime Minister Cameron, and the Foreign Secretary, I was happy to meet with British business leaders to discuss the opportunities for trade between our two countries.
“Other members of the Libyan delegation, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Oil, Minister of Economy and Higher Education, Communication and the Chief of the Armed Forces, as well as the Head of the Libyan Investment Authority also held productive meetings across Whitehall.
“My government is keen to ensure the continued development of our long-lasting relationship with the UK. We look forward to working together on enhancing the interests of our two nations”.