Tag Archives: Libya

Libyan asembly elects former diplomat as prime minister

Reuters Africa

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libya’s national assembly elected a new prime minister on Sunday, the second within a month to face the daunting challenge of forming a government acceptable to the country’s many factions.

Ali Zeidan speaks during a conference on Libya, in Doha May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous

Ali Zeidan, a former career diplomat who had defected in the 1980s to become an outspoken critic of Muammar Gaddafi, was elected in a televised count just a week after the last prime minister was dismissed in a vote of no confidence.

Mustafa Abushagur was dismissed after his choice of ministers ran into protests both from within the assembly and from outside.

Libya desperately needs a viable government so that it can focus on reconstruction and healing divisions opened up by the war which toppled Gaddafi last year.

Zeidan told a news conference he would focus on restoring security to Libya.

“The security file will be my top most priority because all the problems that Libya suffers from stems from security issues. The government will be an emergency government to solve the crises that the country is going through.”

Zeidan, who had support from the leading liberal coalition, the National Forces Alliance, also suggested, however, that he was ready to take into account the views of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in his government.

“Islam is our belief system and the source for any jurisprudence, and anything against sharia is refused,” he said.

Gaddafi kept Libya broadly secular, but the uprising which toppled him has paved the way for the emergence of both Islamist and more secular factions, as well as opening up tribal and regional divisions in the North African country. Reuters

Libyan removes heads of militias


Libya’s army has removed the heads of two of Benghazi’s main militia groups, as it tries to reassert control over armed groups or disband them.

Libyan security forces in Tripoli, 23 September 2012

The February 17 Brigade’s Fawzi Bukatif and Rafallah al-Sahati’s Ismail al-Salabi were replaced by colonels.

On Sunday, interim leader Mohammed Magarief issued a 48-hour deadline for militias to vacate state property.

Last week saw demonstrations against armed groups in Benghazi following this month’s killing of the US ambassador.

Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others Americans died during an attack on the city’s US consulate on 11 September, which coincided with protests over an anti-Islam video produced in the US.

‘Stop using violence’

Islamist militants have denied being behind the attack, but the killing of the respected envoy sparked widespread fury among Benghazi residents.

The Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group was driven out of its headquarters in Benghazi over the weekend in unrest which left at least 11 people dead.

Meanwhile two militant groups based in the Islamist stronghold of Derna – a port city to the east of Benghazi – disbanded on Sunday.

Libya’s interim leaders have taken advantage of the wave of popular sentiment in order to bring the unauthorised groups under control, analysts say.

The government has relied on some brigades to help provide security in post-Gaddafi Libya, analysts say, and many will be watching to see how the authorities undertake the mammoth task of gaining full military control over the country.

“[We want to] dissolve all militias and military camps which are not under the control of the state,” Mr Magarief – the parliamentary speaker who acts as head of state until elections next year – said on Sunday.

“We call on everyone to stop using violence and carrying weapons in the streets and squares and public places.”  BBC

Libya – Benghazi police mutiny following US ambassador death

Reuters Africa

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – Libyan police in Benghazi have mutinied and refuse to serve under the man appointed by the government to take over security following last week’s storming of the U.S. consulate in which the ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

With no one clearly in charge in Libya’s second city and major oil port, the officer named by the government in Tripoli to replace both Benghazi’s police chief and the deputy interior minister responsible for the eastern region told Reuters that he had asked for the army to be sent in if he could not start work.

But as the appointee, Salah Doghman, spoke late on Tuesday, police threatened to walk out en masse if the leadership switch was forced through and accused central government in the capital of making local officials scapegoats for its own failures.

Global attention has been focused on security in Benghazi since September 11, when a residential villa being used by the U.S. mission was stormed after a violent protest about a film that has provoked anger among Muslims worldwide. U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens died of smoke inhalation while trapped alone inside the villa, and three other Americans were killed in the attack and during a rescue attempt that followed.

The incident highlighted the lack of central security powers in Libya and a proliferation of militias, a year after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in a revolt backed by the Western powers.

Wanis al-Sharif, the Libyan deputy interior minister based in the east of the country, and Hussein bu Ahmeida, the chief of police for Benghazi, were both fired by the interior ministry in the wake of the attack, and Doghman was named to take up both of their positions. But neither Sharif nor Ahmeida has left his post and Doghman said he was unable to take up either job. Read more…


Libya – two killed in Tripoli car bomb


At least two people have been killed in a twin car bomb attack in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, security officials say.

One blast took place near the former military academy for women, while the other struck close to the interior ministry. Armed police have surrounded both areas.

Several others were wounded in the blasts, which took place at dawn.

It is the first deadly blast since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi last year.

“Two explosions struck at dawn, the first near the military academy on Omar al-Mokhtar Avenue, the second near the interior ministry,” a security official told AFP.

The city’s head of security, Col Mahmoud Sherif, said the blast outside the military academy left two people dead and four or five injured.

No casualties were reported from the other explosion, he said.

Mr Sherif blamed Gaddafi supporters for the attacks, who he alleged were receiving financial backing from contacts based in neighbouring countries.

Earlier this month, Libya’s interim National Transitional Council handed power to a newly elected assembly, in the first peaceful transition in the country’s modern history.

Ending violence a problem for Libya’s newly-empowered Assembly

Reuters Africa

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Getting a grip on security in an often anarchic post-Gaddafi Libya will be the priority for the country’s new ruling assembly when it starts life on Wednesday, the deputy prime minister says.

Libya's Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagour speaks to Reuters in Tripoli June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Libya’s Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagour speaks to Reuters in Tripoli 

The National Transitional Council, political arm of the opposition forces that toppled Gaddafi a year ago, will hand over power to a national assembly elected in July in a late night ceremony.

It will be the first peaceful transition of power in Libya’s modern history but is overshadowed by several violent incidents in the past week that have shown the country’s precarious stability.

These include a car bomb in the capital Tripoli near the offices of the military police and an explosion at the empty former military intelligence offices in the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of the revolt against Gaddafi.

“Clearly they worry us but at the same time we are investigating them. We are trying to find out who is behind this,” Deputy Prime Minister Abu Shagour told Reuters.

“We were able to improve security from when we started but there still a way to go. Security is top of the agenda for whoever will be coming into power.”

The interim government which took over after Gaddafi’s overthrow successfully led Libya to the elections. But it has struggled to impose its authority on a myriad of armed groups, mostly militias who took part in the uprising, who refuse to lay down their weapons. Disarming them remains a challenge.

On Sunday, security forces killed three armed men suspected of being behind seven failed bomb plots. That same day, the International Committee of the Red Cross suspended its work in Benghazi and the port city of Misrata after one of its compounds was attacked with grenades and rockets.  Read more…

Libya’s transitional government hands power to elected assembly


Libya’s interim National Transitional Council has handed power to a newly elected assembly, almost a year after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

NTC chief Mustafa Abdul Jalil passed the reins to the oldest member of the legislative body at a late-night ceremony in the capital, Tripoli.

The NTC, which was formed during last year’s revolt, has now been dissolved.

The change marks the first peaceful transition of power in Libya’s modern history.

The Assembly held its first meeting straight after the transition, and will continue meeting later to choose a speaker.

At the ceremony, Mr Jalil acknowledged the NTC’s failures in restoring security in the country, but said that the NTC governed in “exceptional times”.

Fighting continues in some parts of Libya and militia groups still hold a lot of power, the BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli says.

The transfer of power to Mohammed Ali Salim, the assembly’s oldest member, took place late on Wednesday because of Ramadan – the Muslim month of fasting.

In Tripoli’s Martyrs Square, hundreds of people held candles symbolising reconciliation, the Associated Press reports. Read more…

Libya: eastern leaders want semi-autonomy for oil region


Tribal leaders and militia commanders in oil-rich eastern Libya have declared their intention to seek semi-autonomy, raising fears that the country might disintegrate following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Thousands of representatives of major tribal leaders, militia commanders and politicians made the declaration on Tuesday in a ceremony held in Benghazi.


They promised to end decades of marginalisation under Gaddafi and named a council to run the affairs of the newly created region, extending from the central coastal city of Sirte to the Egyptian border in the east.

Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston, reporting from the capital, Tripoli, said the announcement in Benghazi was only the beginning of a process.

“It is certainly significant, but we need to put it into context: first of all, they have announced the formation of a new regional council, and this will actually take a couple weeks to form,” she said.

“At this stage, they say they would like independence, but they have not declared independence. At this stage they haven’t even declared a degree of semi autonomy.”

The gathering in Benghazi also rejected an election law which allocated 60 seats for the eastern region out of 200-member assembly set to be elected in June. Read more…