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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More