Magharebia (Washington DC)

Libya: Nation Militarises Southern Zone

Libya's General National Congress (GNC) on Sunday (December 16th) declared the country's southern region to be a restricted military area. The body also voted by an absolute majority (137 votes) to close Libya's land borders.

The Congress ordered the "temporary closure of the land borders with Chad, Niger, Sudan and Algeria pending new regulations" on the circulation of people and goods, the decree carried by LANA news agency stated.

"The provinces of Ghadames, Ghat, Obari, Al-Shati, Sebha, Murzuq and Kufra are considered as closed military zones to be ruled under emergency law," the decree said.

A military ruler will be nominated by Libyan Army Chief of staff Youssef al-Mangoush, in co-ordination with the General National Congress, GNC spokesman Omar Humaidan said. Legislators representing the southern areas had backed the recommendation, he added.

The border closure would last only "until security had been restored", AFP quoted GNC member Suad Ganur as saying.

There had been an "increase in the flow of illegal immigrants in the expectation of eventual international military action in Mali", the Sebha congresswoman added.

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