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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid