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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid