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

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs