TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya's prime minister said on Wednesday that his government is spending billions of dollars to offset the loss of revenue caused by militias who have shut down oil terminals in the country's restive east, one of many challenges to state authority in the North African country after its 2011 uprising and civil war.
Ali Zidan spoke as Republican Sen. John McCain made a brief visit to Tripoli to meet with the prime minister and other officials. McCain reaffirmed a U.S. pledge to train Libyan troops, and said that stability there can only be achieved by outside help.
Zidan said at a news conference in Tripoli that Libya has allocated $7 billion of its foreign reserves to compensate for the terminals held by eastern militias and tribesmen, and said that it will need $6 billion more.
"This is to show to people how this is getting dangerous," he said. Libya is losing millions of dollars every day after production dropped from 1.4 billion barrels a day to a few thousands since the closure.
The groups holding the terminals meanwhile stepped up their demands, saying after a meeting in the eastern city of Tobruk on Wednesday that the oil terminals will not open until the government agrees to set up a committee with representatives of the country's three regions to divide up oil revenues.
Eastern groups say the region suffered from marginalization and unequal distribution of wealth under ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
They demand the creation of a federal system in which each region has some autonomy, reviving the system in place from 1951 until 1963 when Libya, ruled by a monarchy, was divided into three states: Tripolitania in the west, Fezzan in the southwest and Cyrenaica in the east — or Barqa, as it was called in Arabic.
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