RABAT: Libya’s Prime Minister Abdel-Rahim al-Keeb called Wednesday for the realization of an “active and serious” Arab Maghreb Union, during a visit to Morocco, the first such visit since Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster.
“The Maghreb Union is a vessel that contains many of our dreams ... [But these] will not be achieved unless there is a Maghreb Union that is active and serious,” Keeb told reporters in Rabat, speaking alongside Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad Eddine Othmani. “We want this to happen quickly.”
Tunisia is due to host the next summit in October, which should see the relaunch of the dormant five-country union (AMU), formed in 1989 as a trade agreement meant to eventually achieve deeper political integration.
The AMU, grouping Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, has not met since 1994, mainly because of the festering dispute over the Western Sahara between Morocco and Algeria, which hosts the Polisario Front separatist movement. Morocco annexed the territory in 1976.
The bloc’s prospects have been revived by the Arab Spring and a rapprochement between the governments of the region, including Rabat and Algiers, despite their differences.
Keeb Wednesday urged Moroccans to participate in the reconstruction of his country, which was ravaged by the conflict last year that led to Gadhafi’s downfall and death.
“The door is wide open to those capable of contributing to the rebuilding of the new Libya,” he said, adding that Morocco had an important role to play in this.
There was a large Moroccan community in Libya before last year’s revolution, estimated at more than 100,000 people, and bilateral ties have improved since Gadhafi was driven from power.
Morocco’s top diplomat hailed the visit of the Libyan delegation, which included 10 ministers and the army chief of staff, as a “new beginning” in the relationship of the two countries.
Libya’s National Transitional Council, the political arm of the opposition forces that toppled Gadhafi, was preparing to hand over power to a national assembly elected in July in a late night ceremony Wednesday.
It will be the first peaceful transition of power in Libya’s modern history but is overshadowed by violent incidents in the past week, including a car bomb in the capital Tripoli near the offices of the military police, that have shown the country’s precarious stability.
The interim government has struggled to impose its authority on a myriad of armed groups, mostly militias who took part in the uprising, who refuse to lay down their weapons. Disarming them remains a challenge.
Deputy Prime Minister Abu Shagour told Reuters Tuesday security will be the priority for the country’s new ruling assembly.
“We were able to improve security from when we started but there still a way to go. Security is top of the agenda for whoever will be coming into power,” Shagour said.