News / Africa

Libya PM to Reshuffle Cabinet Amid Unrest, Jailbreak

Men hold up a picture of slain lawyer and prominent Libyan activist Abdelsalam al-Mosmary, during his funeral in Benghazi, July 27, 2013.
Men hold up a picture of slain lawyer and prominent Libyan activist Abdelsalam al-Mosmary, during his funeral in Benghazi, July 27, 2013.
Reuters
Libya's prime minister said he would reshuffle the cabinet and reorganize the government to cope with the "urgent" situation in the country following killings in the eastern city of Benghazi that sparked violent demonstrations.
 
Hundreds took to the streets overnight to denounce the assassination of a prominent political activist and critic of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abdelsalam al-Mosmary, who was shot dead on Friday after leaving a mosque in Benghazi.
 
The demonstrations turned violent, and on Saturday protesters attacked the Benghazi and Tripoli offices of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party and the headquarters of a liberal political coalition in the capital.
 
Mosmary, one of the first activists to take to the streets in Libya's February 2011 uprising, was an outspoken opponent of the Brotherhood, whose Islamist political wing is the second biggest party in Libya's General National Congress (GNC). Two military officials were also killed in Benghazi on Friday.
 
Libya's government is struggling to assert its authority over armed groups that helped topple veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, part of the wave of Arab Spring uprisings that also felled autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen.

On Saturday, hundreds of prisoners broke out of a Benghazi jail following a riot, security officials said, in another example of the breakdown in security. One official said the freed prisoners numbered at more than 1,000 but this could not immediately be verified.
 
"We are about to make a cabinet reshuffle and decrease the number of ministries to ensure a better performance to face the urgent situation," Ali Zeidan told a news conference, without giving details. "What is happening is an attempt to obstruct the state's progression."
 
Zeidan referred to the assassinations in Benghazi but made no reference to the storming of the parties' offices.
 
Libya's border with Egypt was closed to prevent Mosmary's killers from fleeing, he said, with only cargo trucks allowed to pass.
 
Earlier on Saturday, protesters in Benghazi invaded and set fire to a building housing the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Justice and Construction Party (JCP), witnesses said.
 
"They shouted 'Gather your belongings. Benghazi wants you out,'" Benghazi resident Rami al-Shahibi said.
 
Hundreds gathered outside Benghazi's Tibesti hotel, one of the main squares in the city for demonstrations, for funeral prayers for Mosmary before heading to a cemetery. They continued to shout anti-Brotherhood slogans.
 
In Tripoli, a crowd stormed JCP headquarters before heading on to ransack the headquarters of the liberal National Forces Alliance (NFA), the country's biggest political party founded by wartime rebel prime minister Mahmoud Jibril.
 
There has been rising opposition in Libya to the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has links to several government ministers. The movement has struggled to convince Libyans wary of foreign interference that it has no financial or administrative links to its namesake in Egypt, whose Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by the army on July 3.
 
Tensions are also high between secularists and the ruling Islamists in Tunisia, where the funeral of an assassinated secular politician took place on Saturday.
 
'State has failed'
 
Many of the protesters accused the Brotherhood of being behind the killings in Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 revolution and now a hotspot for violence — a charge rejected by Abdulrahman al-Dibani, a JCP member in congress.
 
"We have strongly condemned the assassination of Mosmary and all the Libyan people should hear this and not openly blame us," he said. Reached by phone, Bashir el-Kubti, head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, declined to comment on the attacks.
 
Libyans are growing increasingly frustrated as they witness continuous political squabbling and lawlessness across the North African country, a major oil producer. The GNC passed a law this month for the election of a 60-member committee that will draft the country's new constitution after months of infighting.
 
"The people were in the streets because they are fed up of all political parties and how the state has failed," said Hisham Idris, who had demonstrated in Tripoli's Martyrs Square.
 
"Maybe the growing opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood is because they are trying to achieve their political ambitions using religion as a cover for their agenda."
 
Officials for the NFA were not immediately reachable for comment. A party source said the alliance was scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss its next move, potentially even looking at pulling out of the GNC. The NFA, which has just under 40 seats, has already boycotted sessions in the past.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs