News / Middle East

Libya PM Pledges New Government Amid Turmoil

FILE - Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a signing ceremony for the law on elections of the constituent body for the drafting of a constitution in Al Bayda,July 20, 2013.
FILE - Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a signing ceremony for the law on elections of the constituent body for the drafting of a constitution in Al Bayda,July 20, 2013.
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is promising to re-organize his government following days of chaos in Benghazi that saw a mass jail breakout, bombings, anti-Islamist protests and a spate of assassinations.
 
“We are about to make a cabinet reshuffle and decrease the number of ministries to ensure a better performance to face the urgent situation,” Zeidan told a press conference after Libya’s second largest city was rocked by the worst violence to hit it since September’s attack on the U.S. consulate and the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
 
“What is happening is an attempt to obstruct the state’s progression,” the Libyan prime minister said.
 
Zeidan said those behind the jail breakout, the bombings and the killing of an anti-Islamist political activist and two security officials over the weekend were intent on sowing chaos in order to delay forthcoming elections for a body to draft a constitution.
 
The lawlessness, mainly involving former rebel militias, has hampered Libya’s efforts to establish a democratic government following the toppling of Moammar Gadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.
 
Zeidan defended his government’s performance, saying security plans were constantly reviewed and had been ahead of the weekend’s violence. “We reinforced the army in Benghazi and Tripoli to enable it to carry out its work better.”
 
But the reviews and the reinforcements appeared not to have helped the government maintain law and order in Benghazi. Even in the capital Tripoli, which has recently seen fighting between militias, the government was unable to prevent rival protesters from wrecking the political offices of Islamists and a liberal party alliance over the weekend.
 
Zeidan’s pledge to reshuffle his cabinet was quickly overshadowed by more violence overnight in Benghazi when a soldier was killed in fighting between armed groups and security forces.
 
“Clashes broke out between special forces and an unknown armed group,” Mohammed al-Hijazy, a spokesman for Benghazi security operations, said. “At least one soldier was killed. The special forces have now retaken control.”
 
Those clashes erupted after two powerful bombs exploded outside the city’s courthouse and another building used by the judiciary. The explosions injured more than 40 people, according to the ministry of health, and demonstrators later took to the streets to denounce the violence.
 
It was during those demonstrations that Zeidan made his announcement about reorganizing the government.
 
Attack on Muslim Brotherhood
 
Protesters hold a picture of slain political activist Abdelsalam al-Mosmary during his funeral in Benghazi July 27.Protesters hold a picture of slain political activist Abdelsalam al-Mosmary during his funeral in Benghazi July 27.
x
Protesters hold a picture of slain political activist Abdelsalam al-Mosmary during his funeral in Benghazi July 27.
Protesters hold a picture of slain political activist Abdelsalam al-Mosmary during his funeral in Benghazi July 27.
The mayhem in Benghazi, though, started last Friday when a mob attacked the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood following the assassination of political activist Abdelsalam al-Mosmary, a prominent critic of the Brotherhood, as he was leaving a mosque in the city.
 
On Saturday, more than a 1,100 inmates broke-out of Benghazi’s Kuafiya prison after a riot inside the jail.

The escapees also had assistance from groups outside the jail, according to Benghazi security sources, who said there were gunmen outside the prison as inmates inside began set fires.
 
About 100 of the inmates have been recaptured and security forces were searching the city for the rest.
 
Underlining the weakness of the government and the fledgling national security forces, Interior Ministry officials publicly offered escapees a review of their sentences, if they give themselves up.
 
The prime minister’s promise to restore order to Benghazi hasn’t satisfied some members of his government. The minister of social affairs, Kamila Khamis Al-Mazini, has announced her resignation in protest at the deteriorating security situation in the city.

“With my appreciation and loyalty to the martyrs of 17 February Revolution, the wounded, amputees, missing people and retirees and all Libyans, I am announcing my irreversible resignation from the government,” she said in a statement.
A Benghazi lawmaker citing a similar reason has also quit the country’s provisional parliament, the General National Congress.
 
Benghazi at center of troubles
 
Benghazi, home to some of the country’s most powerful rebel militias, has been plagued by violence for the past year. Last September, radical Islamist groups coordinated an attack on the U.S. Consulate, leaving Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans dead. There have been more than 30 assassinations in the city, many of former Gadhafi security officials.
 
In his few months in office, Zeidan has tried to develop reform plans and bring more order to government operations, but has clashed frequently with the General National Congress, especially its Islamist parties.
 
He has tried to persuade militias to disarm and enlist in the government security forces, but there has been little progress in building up the army or the police, both heavily outnumbered by the militias.
 
In May, the country was engulfed in political turmoil when the militias, the Muslim Brotherhood and some other Islamists groups surrounded government offices in Tripoli and forced adoption of a law banning former Gadhafi regime officials from holding political office or jobs in the civil service.
 
The hope among many politicians was that once the law banning former Gadhafi officials was passed, the militias would start to disband. The latest round of violence is putting those hopes to the test.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wim from: Netherlands
July 29, 2013 5:17 PM
"The hope among many politicians was that once the law banning former Gadhafi officials was passed, the militias would start to disband."

At that time I never heard that assumption. Neither was it logical. By giving in to the militias the Libyan parliament made them stronger.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid