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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid