Ali Tarhouni, the rebel finance minister, complained that many countries that pledged aid have instead sent a string of businessmen looking for contracts from the oil-rich country.
TRIPOLI – “They are very vocal in terms of (offering financial) help but all that we have seen is that they are … looking for business,” Tarhouni told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Tarhouni recently returned to Benghazi, the rebel bastion, from a trip overseas to drum up aid that included a visit to Rome where the contact group on Libya promised to set up a fund to speedily help finance the rebel administration.
“I think even our friends do not understand the urgency of the situation. Either they don’t understand, or they don’t care,” Tarhouni said.
Tarhouni singled out Qatar and Kuwait for their “generous, very generous help” but did not say if those countries had sent money. Qatar is the only Arab nation to send jet fighters to help NATO enforce a U.N.-designated no-fly zone in Libya.
Tarhouni also praised France, which was the driving force behind the U.N. no-fly zone. But “other than that, everybody is just talking,” he said. “So far, nothing has come through and I am fast running out of cash.”
Tarhouni emphasized that the rebels’ National Transitional Council will be signing no long-term contracts. While the rebel administration will honor previously signed contracts, Tarhouni indicated a new democratically elected government might do otherwise.
“Right now, I am not going to sign any contract that has any consequences for the future of Libya, with the exception of what I need in terms of food, medicine, fuel,” he said.