Posts Tagged ‘Libye’
Forces of the Military Council of Tripoli stand guard next to the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.
TRIPOLI: Libyan authorities vowed Monday to pursue a democratic transition in the face of mounting lawlessness after two MPs were shot when protesters stormed the country’s transitional parliament.
The two General National Congress members were shot and wounded Sunday as armed protesters stormed their building in Tripoli. In separate violence, a French engineer was killed in the restive eastern city of Benghazi.
“I assure you we are committed to the path of the February 17 revolution and to pursue the democratic process,” GNC president Nuri Abu Sahmein said, referring to the uprising that ended Muammar Qaddafi’s four-decade rule.
Speaking on television, Abu Sahmein said the attack was a “flagrant aggression on the seat of legitimate sovereignty,” and urged former rebels who ousted Qaddafi to protect state institutions.
On Monday, ex-rebels equipped with pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns were posted around the GNC building, where at least five burnt-out cars testified to the previous day’s violence.
Abu Sahmein said the GNC — Libya’s highest political authority — was examining a roadmap for the handover of power “as quickly as possible” to an elected body.
The GNC was elected in July 2012 to an 18-month mandate but it stirred popular anger by extending from early February until end of December.
Under pressure from demonstrators, it later announced early elections but gave no date for the vote.
The head of an elected panel tasked with preparing elections, Nuri Al-Abbar, resigned his post Sunday saying Libya had to “end political tensions and restore order” before holding polls.
Libya’s political class is deeply divided, and GNC members are still demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, although they have failed to oust him in a vote of confidence.
Dozens of armed demonstrators on Sunday demanded the GNC be dissolved and railed against the “kidnapping” the previous night of participants in a sit-in protest outside the parliament building.
They later attacked and “abused” deputies, GNC spokesman Omar Hmidan said.
One GNC member told AFP that the protesters, mostly young people armed with knives and sticks, entered the premises chanting “Resign, resign.”
Two members were “hit by bullets when they tried to leave the venue in their cars,” said Abu Sahmein.
For security reasons, the GNC met Monday in a Tripoli luxury hotel to discuss the previous day’s incidents, a deputy said.
(Source / 03.03.2014)
TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libya will offer compensation to women raped during the 2011 NATO-backed uprising which toppled Muammar Gaddafi, its justice minister said on Wednesday, touching a taboo subject.
Hundreds of women may have been raped during the eight-month conflict, according to the International Criminal Court, which has collected evidence that pro-Gaddafi forces used rape as a weapon to spread fear among its opponents.
No exact figures for the number of women raped are available.
Human rights activists have pushed for compensation, but rape victims are often ostracized in the conservative Muslim country where discussion of the crime remains taboo, so it is not clear how many victims would actually come forward.
Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani said the cabinet had issued a law that would recognize women raped during the conflict as war victims, putting them on the same level as wounded former rebel fighters requiring medical treatment.
“This group (of women) is weak and needs our care,” Marghani told reporters. “It (the law) will give them many rights…and cover also compensation.”
He did not say what compensation the women would get. Other war victims are entitled to benefits that may include medical care, a safe place to stay and financial assistance.
(Source / 19.02.2014)
Libya’s parliament has reached consensus on holding early elections following popular pressure after it had extended its mandate that ended on Feb. 7, deputies said Sunday.
“The political blocs are unanimous on the holding of early elections” for new transitional authorities, MP Abdullah from the al-Gmati bloc told AFP.
The 200 members of the General National Congress (GNC) were elected in July 2012 for a term of 18 months and tasked with leading the country’s transition after the 2011 uprising.
But earlier this month, it decided to extend its mandate until December despite opposition from Libyans.
Libyans have been critical of the body’s inability to halt the country’s slide into further instability.
Thousands took to the streets for the second consecutive week on Friday to protest against the decision.
The GNC last week adopted a new roadmap that set a general election by the end of the year.
The elected commission would still need to decide on key issues in a new constitution, including the system of government, the status of minorities and the role of Islamic sharia law.
If within 60 days, the commission decides it cannot complete the job, it would call for immediate presidential and legislative polls for a renewed period of 18 months.
Monday will mark three years since the start of the revolution that overthrew former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
(Source / 16.02.2014)
Prime minister says government safe and security under control after army official calls for parliament to be suspended.
Haftar said suspending parliament would serve as a road map to ‘rescue’ the country
|Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has said the government is safe and security under control, describing rumours of a coup “ridiculous”.
Zeidan’s remarks on Friday came in response to a senior army official’s call for parliament to be suspended and for the armed forces to “rescue” the country.
Major General Khalifa Haftar, a leading figure in the 2011 revolution against Muammar Gaddafi, called for a presidential committee to be formed to govern until new elections could be held in what he described as a road map for Libya.
Nearly three years after Gaddafi’s fall, Libya has had only fragile government and armed forces unable to impose their authority on competing political factions and the brigades of former revolutionary fighters who refuse to disarm. Libya still has no new constitution.
“Libya is stable. The [General National Congress] GNC is doing its work and so is the government. The army is in its headquarters, and Khalifa Haftar has no authority,” Zeidan told Reuters. “No military units have moved to touch any institutions.”
He said legal proceedings under military law would be taken against Haftar for his statement.
Tripoli was calm, and there were no signs of any extraordinary troop movements or activity outside the parliament, the prime minister’s office or any ministries.
It was not clear how much influence Haftar has even within the small, nascent army in a country where brigades of militia groups and former rebels are more powerful.
Appearing in military uniform, Haftar, in his recorded statement provided to Reuters, called for the GNC, the interim parliament, to be suspended.
“The national command of the Libyan army is declaring a movement for the new road map,” Haftar said, adding that the armed forces were calling for Libya to be “rescued” from its upheaval.
“We will hold meetings with different parties and groups regarding implementing this road map,” he said.
Libya’s army barely exists with most of its soldiers still in training or drawn from the ranks of former rebels who are often more loyal to their own regions, their commanders or their tribes than a national force.
Haftar was once a Gaddafi ally, but broke with him over the war with Chad in the 1980s. He later sought exile in the United States, but returned to become a commander of forces in the 2011 revolution.
The General National Congress is deeply split by infighting between the nationalist National Forces Alliance party and Islamists in the Justice and Construction Party, which is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Al Wafaa movement.
Since its election in 2012, the GNC has become increasingly unpopular with Libyans who see it has made little progress in the transition to democracy. Libya still has no new constitution.
But tensions have increased over its future, after its initial mandate ran out on February 7. Its members agreed to extend their term in office to allow a special committee the stability to draft the constitution.
Rival political factions and militia groups have competing views on how the country should continue, with some calling for early elections and others supporting the extension of the parliament’s mandate.
(Source / 14.02.2014)
TRIPOLI, Libya – Libya’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the country’s caches of chemical weapons, including bombs and artillery shells filled with mustard gas, have been completely destroyed.
“Libya is totally empty of any presence of chemical weapons … which could pose a threat to the safety of people, the environment, or neighboring regions,” Mohammed Abdel-Aziz said in remarks carried by Libya’s state news agency.
The eradication of the weapons, which date from the era of slain dictator Moammar Gadhafi, marks an important success for Libya, even as Syria, its neighbor in the eastern Mediterranean, is struggling to destroy its own chemical weapons hoard amid a civil war.
Under Gadhafi, Libya declared in 2004 it had 25 metric tons of sulfur mustard and 1,400 metric tons of precursor chemicals used to make chemical weapons. It also declared more than 3,500 unfilled aerial bombs designed for use with chemical warfare agents such as sulfur mustard, and three chemical weapons production facilities.
At the time, Gadhafi was trying to shed his image as an international outcast and restore relations with Western governments by destroying his existing weapons of mass destruction and abandoning aspirations to obtain a nuclear bomb.
By the start of Libya’s civil war in 2011, the country had destroyed 55 percent of its declared sulfur mustard and 40 percent of the precursor chemicals.
Gadhafi didn’t or couldn’t use chemical weapons during the fighting. After the revolution, the new government uncovered some additional munitions loaded with mustard gas that hadn’t previously been disclosed.
Destruction resumed in early 2013 at a facility in remote Ruwagha, some 370 miles (600 kilometers) south of Tripoli.
The director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which assists countries in verifiably destroying their chemical weapons, said destroying Libya’s weapons had been a “major undertaking.”
The work was done in “arduous, technically challenging circumstances,” OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement, crediting cooperation between Libya and his own organization, as well as help from Germany and the U.S.
Preparations will now be made to destroy Libya’s remaining precursor chemicals by the end of 2016.
The release took place after Libya was in talks with Egypt to resolve the hostage crisis after gunmen kidnapped the diplomats in Tripoli in retaliation for Egypt’s arrest of a top Libyan militia commander, Shaban Hadiya.
One of the kidnappers said they agreed to release the diplomats with “good intentions,” and admitted “responsibility,” acknowledging what they did “was wrong.”
“They [Egypt] can make sure by calling the Libyan interior ministry,” he said.
“The Egyptian government asked us to release the diplomats, then they will release him [Hadiya],” the kidnapper added.
Hadiya also known as Abu Obeida, was not released by Egypt.
The kidnapper defended Hadiya when he rejected accusations that the militia commander belonged to al-Qaeda extremist group.
“Abu Obeida is a Salafist and not part of al-Qaeda.”
Asked to explain the reason behind his arrest, he was unable to give a clear answer but insisted that Hadiya was innocent.
He also rejected widely circulated claims that his group was behind briefly abduction of Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in Tripoli in October of last year.
Kidnapped within 24 hours
The Libyan rebel group grabbed five diplomatic staff from their homes in the Libyan capital within 24 hours, including the cultural attaché, on Friday.
Kidnappers on Saturday called Al Arabiya News Channel, demanding Hadiya’s release in 24 hours and put one of the Egyptian diplomats on the line to plead with their government to meet the demands.
Hadiya commands the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, a powerful militia, which denied it was involved in the Egyptian kidnappings.
The abduction of five diplomats in the Libyan capital illustrated the fragility of government control over former rebels and militias who two years ago helped topple Muammar Qaddafi in a NATO-backed revolution.
Heavily armed ex-fighters, militiamen and Islamist militants who battled Qaddafi forces have refused to disarm and often remain more loyal to their brigades, tribal leaders or local regions than to the new Libyan government.
The Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries is nominally under the control of chief of staff to work with the armed forces, but the militia has before used military muscle to make political demands on the state.
Operations Room commanders denied any involvement in the diplomat abductions. But on Friday, they had warned of a response if Hadiya were not released.
The group said he was arrested visiting Egypt with family for medical treatment.
Egypt’s ambassador to Libya and other diplomats and their families arrived on Saturday back in Cairo after the government evacuated the embassy in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi as a precautionary measure.
(Source / 26.01.2014)
Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) declared a state of emergency in the country on Saturday, following fresh clashes that erupted in the south when a gunmen group seized a military base, an official said according to Agence France-Presse.
The GNC, Libya’s highest political authority, made the decision during an “extraordinary session” around the situation in the southern town of Sebha, where tribal clashes have been raging for several days.
Fighting flared up again on Saturday when gunmen took control of a military base near Sabha, after several days of relative quiet, the government said.
However, earlier on Saturday, the Libyan army had recaptured the Tamenhant base, near the southern city of Sabha, Abderrazak al-Shebahi, Libya’s defense ministry spokesman said, according to AFP.
Government warplanes launched raids “against certain targets”, he added.
Shebahi also said the [gunmen] group was made up of supporters of Dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who was ousted and killed by NATO-backed rebels in October 2011.
“We know them and we are going to track where they are going,” he said.
Meanwhile, troops were sent to the country’s restive south to control the clashes Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said, according to Reuters.
“This confrontation [at the air base] is continuing but in a few hours it will be solved,” he said during a televised interview without giving further details.
During the clashes in Sabha, three soldiers were reported killed a military official said according to AFP.
Four other soldiers were wounded in the clashes that continued for a second day after an earlier truce failed, the official who spoke on condition of anonymity added.
The clashes were sparked by revenge attacks between the African-origin Tabu tribe and the Arab-origin Awlad Soliman.
Assailants attacked at least two military bases in the city, the official said.
Also on Saturday, the Libyan defense minister was sent to Mistrata to order the troops based there to move to the south, according to Reuters.
Mistrata, a central coastal city, is home to some of the most experienced soldiers and militias, battle-hardened from the 2011 uprising.
“The troops from Misrata have been commissioned by the government to conduct a national task … to spread security and stability in the region,” Zeidan said.
Earlier this week, fighting in Sabha killed 31 people. The city was one of the last to fall under rebel control during Libya’s 2011 civil war.
(Source / 18.01.2014)
Libyan political activist Amal al-Taher el-Haj has submitted her name to the General National Congress as a candidate to succeed Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, if he receives a vote of no confidence from parliament this week.
El-Haj, 45, was born in Tripoli, where she is commonly known as “Mimi.” In an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel, she expressed her hopes of being Libya’s new prime minister.
She believes that her chances of being appointed as the new Libyan prime minister are high, especially since there is an ongoing political conflict in the country.
On Wednesday, Zeidan announced that any Libyan citizen has the right to be prime minister, this encouraged el-Haj to submit her application, she said.
In the interview, el-Haj stated that current Prime Minister Ali Zeidan generated an unstable political climate in the country, pushing his opponents to call for his removal. She believes that the Muslim Brotherhood and the National Forces Alliance, led by Mahmoud Jibril, are ready to oust Zeidan in a vote of no confidence.
In the phone interview with Al Arabiya, el-Haj was asked how she would feel if she became a prime minister in an Arab world ruled by men. She replied: “Since Queen Dihya (the 7th century queen of the northwestern African region known as Numidia) until now, men have not allowed women to effectively participate in Libya’s governance, but it is now the adequate time for a woman’s touch and what confirms that is that my candidacy has been greatly welcomed.
“I will not meet with any prime minister alone,” she added, “and in all cases, I always get out of the house wearing hijab.”
El-Haj previously worked with the Libyan-Italian Advanced Technology Company, which assembles helicopters parts, but resigned three days before the Feb. 17 revolution that toppled former leader Muammar Qaddafi. She is currently the director of the Free Communications Charitable Association.
El-Haj opened up about her family and their income stream, saying: “I have five brothers, one of which is an immigrant in the United States. I have also two brothers working as engineers in Libya, another one working as an accountant and the last one as an auditor. I have also have a sister who works as an accountant as well. Moreover, we inherited from a property my father that also contributes to our income.”
(Source / 14.01.2014)
“Islamic law is the source of legislation in Libya,” stated the General National Congress in a statement released shortly after the vote was held. “All state institutions need to comply with this,” it said.
The process by which the new sharia law system would be implemented was not immediately clear, but a special committee will review all existing laws to ensure their compliance with Islamic law, according to Reuters. The move came shortly before a separate vote to establish a 60-person committee which will be responsible for drafting the country’s new constitution.
Sharia law – the moral code and religious law of Islam – is dissimilar to Western ‘codified’ law in that its moral and legal guidelines are looser. Its rulings are based on the Koran, the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad and Muslim traditions. In its strictest form, it is perceived to be the divine will of God.
The country remains in a chaotic transition period after the NATO-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi two years ago. Libya’s administrative and security structures remain fragile, with the most recent escalation happening on November 15 when 46 people were killed in the Libyan capital.
(Source / 04.12.2013)
Kerry was speaking in London following talks with British counterpart William Hague and Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.
“We talked to the prime minister today about the things we can do together – the United Kingdom and the United States and its other friends – in order to help Libya to achieve the stability that it needs,” he told a press conference.
“Libya has gone through great turmoil, particularly after the course of the last weeks,” Kerry added.
“And the Prime Minister informed us of a transformation that he believes is beginning to take place and could take place because the people of Libya have spoken out and pushed back against the militias,” he said.
“So this is a moment of opportunity where there’s a great deal of economic challenge, there’s a great deal of security challenge,” he added.
Rebels helped topple and kill veteran dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, but have since banded into militias carving their own fiefdoms, each with its own ideology and regional allegiance.
Libya’s government announced plans last Tuesday to remove militias from the capital and eventually integrate them into the security forces, after a weekend of deadly clashes between militiamen and residents.
Hundreds of residents then on Friday called on Libyan militias still in Tripoli to follow other groups and withdraw.
Zeidan stressed that country had lately “done a lot to get rid of the militias” and praised the work of allies who had committed to help Libya.
As a result, he predicted that Libya would become “an active contributor on the world arena.”
Foreign Secretary Hague pledged Britain’s support to help Libya establish security and democracy and, along with Kerry, welcomed the withdrawal of armed militias from Tripoli.
(Source / 24.11.2013)