Libya’s Government of National Unity, led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, denied today reports claiming that it allowed Turkey to lease the port of Khoms for 99 years and turned it into a military base.
The government’s spokesman Mohamed Hammouda called the reports “just baseless rumors” in a video-recorded statement, released by the government’s media office.
In the video, Hammouda appeared alongside the Head of the Ports and Maritime Transport Authority, Muhammad al-Siwi, and the Chief of Staff of the Naval Forces, Major General Noureddine al-Buni.
All three jointly affirmed that “there is no room for tampering with the port of Khoms”.
Turkish media claimed yesterday that Turkey leased the port for nearly a century in order to strengthen its sovereignty in the Eastern Mediterranean, boost control of the country’s territorial waters and ensure the security of its merchant vessels.
The alleged move sparked outrage in Libya who denounce using a commercial and civilian port as stronghold for a foreign military.
Demonstrators in Khoms set fire to tires and closed roads to protest against turning the port into a military base, a move which they saw as an attack against a vital economic asset for the city’s residents.