Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki concluded his visit to neighboring Libya today. Marzouki announced that his next foreign visits will include Algeria and Morocco, in an effort to reinforce relations among the Arab Maghreb.
Marzouki indicated on Monday in Tripoli that his visit to Libya was intended to be a milestone in bilateral relations based on positive economic, political, and social exchange. He added that his visit will be followed by a visit from Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali in the days to come, which will serve to further strengthen the relations between the two countries. These relations, Marzouki asserts, have long fluctuated depending on “the moods of the two countries’ old leaders.” For this reason Marzouki emphasized the need for patience on the part of both the Libyan and the Tunisian people.
Marzouki also discussed, during the same meeting, the conditions Tunisia has put in place for the extradition of Libyan former Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi. Marzouki likened the Libyan people’s desire for the extradition of Mahmoudi to that of the Tunisian people’s desire to extradite ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abddine Ben Ali from Saudi Arabia.
The Tunisian President announced that a number prisoners in Tunisia will be granted amnesties on January 14, 2012, the anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution, including many Libyans who have been imprisoned in Tunisia for minor offences. Likewise, Libyan National Transitional Council President Mustapha Abdeljalil expressed his regret regarding the recent incidents along the border with Tunisia. Abdeljalil emphasized that the transgressions only reflect poorly on the individuals who committed them, rather than on the entire Libyan people.
Marzouki also met with a number of officials from various Arab diplomatic missions in Libya, who congratulated him on his recent election.
On his second day in Libya, Marzouki visited Misrata with Abdeljalil. During this visit, he held a meeting with the employees of the “Siderurgique” complex in Misrata – a Libyan enterprise employing a large number of workers tasked with the reconstruction of the city, after the destruction Gaddafi’s militias inflicted on Misrata. Marzouki further reiterated the importance of cooperation between the two countries during this event.
Marzouki’s last day in Libya was spent in Benghazi. Issues discussed during the meeting among Marzouki, Abedeljalil, and delegates from Libyan civil society included security along the border and the possibility of Tunisians assisting Libyans in the organization of Libya’s democratic transition.