Libya PM office siege over

2013-03-26 21:45
Ali Zidan (Georges Gobet, AFP)

Ali Zidan (Georges Gobet, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tripoli - About 200 militiamen and protesters demanding the resignation of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan have ended their day-long siege of his office, a group leader said Monday, easing fears of renewed unrest and challenges to the country's parliament and government.

The protest in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, ended after the prime minister sneaked out of the building through a back door late on Sunday, said Osama Kabar, deputy leader of the previously little-known group called the Supreme Council of Libya Revolutionaries.

Zidan's office said the prime minister left Monday for Qatar to attend an Arab League summit.

Kabar, whose group is packed with Islamists and militiamen from the city of Misrata, said the move against Zidan was in response to controversial remarks the prime minister made last week, threatening to summon outside help to confront militias.

Less than two years after the country's uprising-turned-civil war, Libya is struggling to build a unified army and police force amid increasingly powerful militias. The government depends on some of the militias to fill the security vacuum, but has no control over their actions.

"These remarks were very dangerous," Kabar said.

"There is no security problem in Libya," he said. "The real revolutionaries are protecting the country."

Kabar's group also is against appointing members of the former Muammar Gaddafi regime to the Libyan Cabinet.

Zidan, who served as an ambassador under Gaddafi before joining opposition decades ago, retracted his remarks. He made them at a new conference on Tuesday after a short trip to Benghazi where he escaped an assault at the airport. The assault was carried out by disgruntled militiamen demanding salaries.

Coup fears

Many fear the siege on Zidan's office, the assault at the airport and other attacks targeting parliament are all part of a coup.

"Forcing change by weapon is a coup and Libyans have chosen their way through democracy, not through coups," said Fathi Baja, an analyst and member of the former opposition group, the National Transitional Council.

While meeting with former French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week, Zidan challenged militias, saying: "The government will not break and will not submit to anyone but to Libyans' will through the ballot boxes."

Adding to security woes, the country's parliament and political scene is split into two main factions.

One is an Islamist faction led by the Muslim Brotherhood along with independents. The other is headed by Mahmoud Jibril, a former war-time prime minister whose coalition won the largest number of seats during the country's first free elections in July.

The parliament, which has been criticized for incompetence and its inability to meet its obligations, such as making preparations to draft the country's constitution, has been further weakened by successive attacks by militiamen.

One of the worst attacks occurred in mid-March when the parliament met to discuss a controversial law away from its usual venue. In its current draft form, the law would deprive anyone who served under Gaddafi from 1969 to 2011 from playing any political role. If passed, a whole ruling class would be banned from politics.

While parliamentarians were discussing the law, militiamen stormed the building and fired gunshots in the air. Members of parliament were trapped in the building for several hours before they were allowed to leave. On the way out, the convoy of Mohammed al-Megarif, the head of the parliament, came under fire.

Read more on:    ali zidan  |  libya  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Trying to keep time for your social commitments and friendships as well as taking care of work and health obligations can be more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.