Libya marks destruction of last chemical arms - watchdog

OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu looks on in this file photo. He said that the destruction of the chemical arms “heralds the end of Libya's chemical demilitarisation process”. (Reuters)
Updated 11 January 2018
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Libya marks destruction of last chemical arms - watchdog

THE HAGUE: Libya marked the destruction of its last toxic arms Thursday, hailed by the world's chemical weapons watchdog as a "historic occasion" to make the world a safer place.
The final destruction of some 500 metric tonnes of chemical products at a facility based in Munster in western Germany, was a "historic occasion for disarmament and security," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said.
"It heralds the end of Libya's chemical demilitarisation process and another step towards fulfilling the core goal of the Chemical Weapons Convention - the complete and permanent eradication of all chemical weapons," director-general Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement.
The stocks, including 23 tanks of chemicals, were shipped out on a Danish vessel on August 30, 2016, from the Libyan port of Misrata, under the supervision of the United Nations.
The chemical weapons reached the highly specialised facility operated by GEKA, Germany's state-owned company for disposing of chemical weapons, in September 2016.
The OPCW verified the complete destruction of the materials at GEKA on November 23 last year, the OPCW said Thursday at a ceremony held in Munster.
The removal of the dangerous weapons precursors greatly eased fears that extremists like so-called Islamic State terrorists could gain access to the weapons in Libya, which has been wracked by upheaval since the 2011 overthrow of its longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi.
Uzumcu said the "extraordinary" operation to destroy the chemicals "necessitated agility, creativity and above all, close international cooperation."
Libya joined the UN convention banning chemical weapons in 2004 as part of Kadhafi's ultimately abortive efforts to shake off the country's pariah status and mend ties with the West.
At the time Libya joined the convention, it declared 24.7 tonnes of sulphur mustard, 1,390 tonnes of precursor chemicals and more than 3,500 aerial bombs containing chemical weapons.
"The destruction of Libya's remaining Category 2 chemical weapons in the GEKA facility brought the total amount of the Libyan category 2 chemical weapons destroyed to 100 percent," the OPCW said.
"Libya had previously destroyed all of its category 1 and 3 chemical weapons," it added.
More than 96 percent of the world's declared chemical stockpiles have now been destroyed under verification by the OPCW - which received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its work.


Day into emergency rule, Sudan's Bashir names vice president and PM

Updated 23 February 2019
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Day into emergency rule, Sudan's Bashir names vice president and PM

  • President Omar Al-Bashir declared a one-year nationwide state of emergency on Friday
  • Protesters frustrated with economic hardship have demonstrated for more than two months

KHARTOUM: Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir appointed a first vice president and a new prime minister on Saturday, a day after declaring a state of emergency to counter the most sustained protests since he came to power 30 years ago in a military coup.
Mohamed Tahir Ayala, the former governor of Gezira state whom Bashir had previously touted as a potential successor as president, was appointed prime minister. Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf became first vice president while retaining his defense portfolio.
Bashir declared a one-year nationwide state of emergency on Friday and set up a caretaker administration. He replaced all state governors with military officials.
Urging his opponents to join a "path of national reconciliation" and dialogue, he called on parliament to postpone constitutional amendments that would have allowed him to seek another term in 2020.
There are no signs that has calmed matters, with the National Consensus Forces, one of the main opposition groups, saying the state of emergency was aimed at countering a "popular revolution" and vowing to push ahead until he is toppled.
Defense Minister Ibn Auf previously served as the head of military intelligence.
Earlier this month, he became the second of several top officials to strike a conciliatory tone towards the protests, saying that young people caught up in the recent turmoil had "reasonable ambition".