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Protesters say to keep blockading Libya oil terminals
Agence France Presse
Libyan army soldiers stand guard in a petrol station in the capital Tripoli on December 14, 2013. AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA
Libyan army soldiers stand guard in a petrol station in the capital Tripoli on December 14, 2013. AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA
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TRIPOLI: Armed protesters Sunday refused to lift a months-long blockade of vital oil terminals in eastern Libya, despite a tribal pledge to do so.

"We state that we are not going to reopen the oil harbours," said Ibrahim Jodhrane, head of the security guards blockading the main terminals at Zueitina, Ras Lanouf and Al-Sedra.

He said initiatives aimed at resolving the crisis had failed.

On Tuesday, the head of the powerful Al-Magharba tribe which launched the blockade in July in support of its demands for regional autonomy had said it would be lifted on Sunday.

"We expect that the export of crude from the oil terminals will resume from December 15," Saleh al-Ateiwich said.

Jodhrane also confirmed during a televised meeting with his tribe in the town of Nouafliya that the blockade would be lifted.

But he laid down conditions, including a share of the oil revenues for the Cyrenaica region in the east that is seeking autonomy in a federated state.

And on Sunday, Jodhrane told broadcaster Al-Nabaa that the conditions had not been met by the government.

Supporters of a federal system last month announced the creation of a company to sell oil from seized terminals in the east, adding to pressure on the government.

The announcement came from the Cyrenaica Political Bureau, which in October set up its own government in the east in a move that angered Tripoli.

The government has accused the protesting guards of trying to sell crude, while the strikers have in turn charged the government with corruption in oil sales.

Since the ouster of Libya's long-time leader Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, authorities have struggled to quell rising lawlessness and impose their authority.

Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi told reporters on December 3 at an OPEC meeting in Vienna that his country hoped to restore full oil output within days.

"In 10 days if everything goes right, hopefully we'll go back to 1.5" million barrels per day, he told reporters.

"Things change... that (is) why I said hopefully, I'm not sure because things are not in my hands," he added, cautious of previous false starts.

Arusi added that the lost production had cost Libya "around $9.0 billion" in revenue.

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