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19th Jan 2019

Libya slowly coming back to normality, says EU official

Shops are opening on the streets of Tripoli and more women and children are to be seen, as the interim government is getting a hold in the devastated Libyan capital, EU envoy Agostino Miozzo said Tuesday (6 September) upon his return from the country.

"There is a sense of optimism about how the general situation is evolving in the capital and the rest of the country," Miozzo told journalists in a press briefing in Brussels after his five-day visit to Libya.

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He said that the situation is improving quickly in Tripoli, where pro-Gaddafi snipers were still shooting from roofs on the eve of his arrival. "Life is getting back to normality: Shops are opening more and more, people are going to work. There was huge traffic on the streets of Tripoli and even if there are some problems with fuel and water supplies, engineers are working on it."

Miozzo said Libyans were very impressed to see the EU flag hanging out of the hotel room window where they set camp so early on. "The European presence in the capital just few hours after fighting ended had a big impact," he noted.

Praising the "young generation of politicians" forming the National Transitional Council (NTC), Miozzo said the world would be "safe" if they were to be the ones in charge once Gaddafi is ousted.

"You can trust these people, they have a very clear mind, are well educated and have a sense of ownership and pride of their country, their flag, the revolution they've made."

But the EU envoy also admitted that with so many weapons around, young people often engage in "happy shootings" with arms proliferation remaining the main challenge for the months and year to come.

EEAS envoy Agostino Miozzo talked to EUobserver upon his return from Libya.

The other big risk, he told the EUobserver, is the array of overlapping international organisations trying to shape the country reconstruction.

"Security sector is one priority, humanitarian aid, water supply are all priorities. But (the NTC) have made it clear they don't want the circus of humanitarian aid, going around the country and offering solutions. They will be the ones requesting what they need," Miozzo stressed.

Meanwhile, the NTC is seeking a peaceful handover in the remaining strongholds of Gaddafi loyalists and reportedly have already secured a deal. But the dictator is still at large and his whereabouts remain unknown. Members of his family arrived in neighbouring Algeria last week where they were given permission to stay.

Niamey on Tuesday denied that Gaddafi was in Niger, after a convoy from Libya with some former officials entered the country.

"We don't have any evidence that Gaddafi is anywhere but in Libya at the moment," US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday.

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