Sunday, March 2, 2014

Libya updates - March 2 , 2014 - Focus on political developments and security or the lack thereof developments ........

Politics ......

Congress responds to attack by looking to sack Zeidan

By Ahmed Elumami.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan (Photo: Sami Zaptia).
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan (Photo: Sami Zaptia)
Tripoli, 4 March 2014:
Members of Congress say they are planning to sack the Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, at today’s session and pick an existing government minister as caretaker premier pending agreement on new appointment.
The move is in response to Sunday’s assault on the General National Congress (GNC) in which three members were wounded and others beaten.
Meeting in an emergency session at a downtown Tripoli hotel yesterday, members blamed the government for what happened, saying it had failed to ensure adequate security.
“There was a discussion at an emergency sitting today among the Congress members to remove Zeidan from his position,” Kufra Congressman and acting head of the Defence Committee, Hamed Al-Hattah, told the Libya Herald.
Congress members would debate the sacking of Zeidan at today’s sitting, Hattah said, giving members and political blocs time to discuss it.
Broadly confirming the move, Benghazi independent Congressman Omar Khaled Ubaidi said that today’s session would discuss dismissing Zeidan, but that he would be replaced by a “national figure”. No mention was made of an existing minister.
Although Congress members cite the government’s failure to provide security, the move is widely being seen as an attempt to divert pressure on it to dissolve itself and agree to fresh elections for a successor body.
Not all Congress members support the move, however.    
“It’s a mistake to sack Ali Zeidan because it’s not perfect timing. Now there are challenges but we have to carry one, not to strike back [at the government], Khoms Congressman Abdulmonem Al-Yaser said light night.  “We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Congress members have previously told this newspaper that there was widespread agreement to dismiss Zeidan, but not until they could find a replacement. There has been no consensus, however, on who that replacement should be with the two main parties in Congress, the Justice and Construction Party and the National Forces Alliance, fearing the appointment of candidate supported by the other.

Ghat security officials force local council to close

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 4 March 2014:
Officials in charge of security at Ghat Local Council have forced it to close, claiming it lacked integrity and transparency,  council leader Abdel Gader Makhi has told the Libya Herald. Speaking in Tripoli  yesterday, he added that security officials had also threatened its members, especially female ones.
The security guards had also complained in particular about a number of their members not being   selected for training courses in Tripoli and elsewhere, claiming places had been distributed unfairly, Makhi said.
However, a senior security guard, Mohammed Abdel Gader, has denied taking such action — on Sunday — saying that the council was already closed. Nonetheless, he admitted the group was demanding order and accountability. A meeting with council employees had been demanded to discuss these problems, he told this newspaper by phone from Ghat. He also complained of what he described as inefficiency and poor council member attendance.
Meetings had also been called with local elders, revolutionaries and civil society leaders to discuss the issues, he added.
Makhi’s deputy, Ibrahim Mustafa, also speaking by phone from Ghat, concurred with Makhi. He said the current situation had arisen because security staff felt they were being passed over for much-coveted training schemes. The decision to intervene in council affairs was unacceptable, he said. It was   not their concern.

Change of venue for GNC while security reconsidered

By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 3 March 2014:
The General National Congress (GNC) today held an extraordinary sitting at one of Tripoli’s five star hotels to discuss last night’s attack on the Congress headquarters.
“I am against such acts of violence and vandalism that do not represent the revolution and I am very sorry for what happened to the Congress members who were injured by protesters,” independent Beida Congresswoman, Zainab Haroun Al-Targhi, told the Libya Herald.
Targhi said that the Head of Congress Nuri Abu Sahmain made a statement denying what she had said about Congress being responsible for what happened last night. She added, however, that the statement was probably intended to reassure people and calm the situation.
Independent Benghazi Congressman, Omar Khaled Al-Ubaidi, said that today’s sitting sent a message about the legitimacy of Congress. The GNC would continue with plans to hold early elections and these security obstacles would not stop these, he added.
Today’s sitting also focussed on security, discussing ways to secure both Congress members and the building.
Head of the Libyan Revolutionaries Operation Room (LROR)’s political office, Adel Gharyani, told the Libya Herald that some GNC members had suggested that the LROR should be tasked with securing Congress.

Three GNC members were injured in last night’s attack

By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 3 March 2014:
It has been confirmed that three Congress members were injured in last night’s storming of the General National Congress (GNC) building by nearly 500 protesters, demanding it be dissolved.
Three members are Misrata Congressman Abdurrahman Sewehli,  Tripoli Congressman Ahmed Mohamed Ali Bouni and Murzuk Congressman Masoud Ubaid.  The deputy rapporteur, Congressman Ahmed Al-Saadi (Tarhouna) told the Libya Herald that Sewehli and Bouni were both shot in the leg by a single bullet fired by one of the attackers while they were trying to drive away.
He refuted reports that the two had been involved in a shootout with the attackers.  ” I deny firmly what has been reported by some media sources that Sewehli and Bouni had used their personal guns against the protesters,” he asserted. The reports were illogical, he added.
Saadi said that Murzuk Congressman Masoud Ubaid had been also injured in the knee, adding that he believed it to be broken.
There have been unconfirmed reports that Tripoli Congressman Nizar Kawan and Benghazi Congressman Sulaiman Zubi also suffered minor injuries in the incident.
According to Tripoli Congressman Abdurrahman Al-Shater, Congress has been attacked or stormed  more than 100 times since it was elected.  Sunday’s attack is seen as the worst incident so far.

HNEC head Nuri Elabbar resigns

By Jamal Adel.
Nuri Elabbar in January (Photo: HNEC)
Nuri Elabbar in January (Photo: HNEC)
Tripoli, 2 March 2014:
The head of the High National Elections Commission (HNEC), Nuri Elabbar, resigned this afternoon in the aftermath of elections to the Constitutional Committee, dogged by boycotts and security breaches. Only 47 of the 60 seats could be filled.
Elabbar confirmed to the Libya Herald that he had officially submitted his resignation to the General National Congress (GNC) but declined to give further details.
An HNEC official, however, said Elabbar had been unhappy with the lack of security provided by Congress and the government during the elections. Elabbar himself said yesterday that the Commission had made repeated requests for security for the elections but, despite this, provision had not been made. No-one had taken responsibility for this, he added.
Without proper security, voting was disrupted during elections for the Constitutional Drafting Committee on 20 February. Derna was particularly affected, with the bombing of six polling stations. It prevented voting from taking place. A week later, when HNEC attempted a re-run in the affected areas, ethnic minority group boycotts and security threats in a number again disrupted voting.
These issues meant that 13 of 60 seats on the committee could not be filled.
Two other senior HNEC officials, Elabbar’s deputy Imad Al-Saih and HNEC member Khaled Al-Sahali, have also submitted their resignations, according to Libyan News Agency LANA.
Elabbar’s name has been mentioned, along with several others,  as a possible replacement for Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

GNC members’ cars burned as protestors 

vandalise Congress

By Ahmed Elumami.
A burning car outside Congress this evening (Photo: Ahmed Elumami)
A burning car outside Congress this evening (Photo: Ahmed Elumami)
Tripoli, 2 March 2014:
A group of protestors who earlier stormed the premises of the General National Congress (GNC) injuring several Congressmen continued to wreak havoc this evening, setting cars ablaze.
Cars left behind by Congress members beating a hasty retreat were set ablaze by angry protestors, who also damaged trees and a temporary structure which houses GNC security. It was impossible to tell whether any damage had been done inside the headquarters because protesters had closed the doors of the building.
The number of protestors swelled to nearly 500 late this evening, all condemning the wave of assassinations in Benghazi, Derna and Sirte and denouncing the GNC and government’s inaction over the country’s ongoing security crisis.
They demanded the immediate resignation of all Congress members who, they said, did not represent the Libyan people.
Protestors insisted that they would not leave the premises until all Congress members had resigned and a legitimate body, for example the Supreme Court, replaced the institution.
“We are here to prove to the traitor Congress that we are able to overthrow them at any time,” one of the protesters, university student Murad Al-Awadi, told the Libya Herald. He added that people were very angry because they felt neglected by the GNC.
Awadi said that the Congress members and government ministers followed personal interests, ignoring the needs if Libya and its people. He added that when he saw armoured cars outside Congress, it reminded him of the security outside Qaddafi’s headquarters Bab al-Aziziya.
Another young protester said he was there in solidarity with Benghazi, which has seen waves of protests this week against the deteriorating security in the city.
Congress was completely controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood and was heavily influenced by foreign agendas.

GNC stormed; Congress members injured

By Ahmed Elumami and Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 2 March 2014:
Protestors stormed the General National Congress (GNC) this evening in an attack that reportedly left several Congress members injured.
GNC spokesman Omar Hemidan confirmed to the Libya Herald that some Congress members had been beaten by protesters but said he was unable to give further details. According to reports circulating on social media websites, Misratan Congressman Abdulrahman Swehli was one of those injured and was taken to hospital.
Other reports have said that Zawia Congressman Mohamed Al-Kilani was “arrested” by the protestors. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan last year accused Kilani, regarded as a radical Islamist, of being behind his brief kidnapping.
Hemidan said that the group of protestors, armed with knives and sticks, stormed in at the end of today’s GNC sitting. When asked why they had not been stopped from entering by GNC security, he hesitated and appeared not to know what to say.
Tonight’s attack is believed to have been provoked by an incident last night where a peaceful demonstration against the GNC’s extension yesterday was broken up and a number of protestors were arrested.
This evening, at 9 pm, the main road outside Congress was closed by the protestors who used tyres, rubbish and pieces of wood to block it. Around 150 people could be seen on the road.

Security or the lack thereof.......

Saadi to face numerous charges, says General Attorney office

By Ahmed Elumami.
Graffiti in Tripoli depicting Saadi as a footballer (Photo: Tom Westcott)
Graffiti in Tripoli depicting Saadi as a footballer (Photo: Tom Westcott)
Tripoli, 6 March 2014:
Saadi Qaddafi, extradited to Libya from Niger this morning, will face numerous charges, the General Attorney’s office has said.
These will include a number of charges related to the theft of public money, incitement to murder during the 17 February revolution, and bringing mercenaries from Sub-Saharan African countries to fight alongside Qaddafi’s troops.
Saadi was also involved in many abuses relating to the suppression of public freedom before the revolution, head of the investigation department of the General Attorney’s office, Sadiq Al-Sour, told the Libya Herald.
“Saadi is facing a separate murder charge of killing Al-Ittihad football player and coach in Tripoli, Bashir Al-Rayani,” he said. Rayani was tortured and killed after apparently making some comments regarding Saadi’s lack of talent as a footballer to a group of acquaintances.
The day of his murder was, coincidentally, 6 March 2006. When the news broke of Saadi’s extradition, Al-Ittihad decided to mark this day and commemorate Rayani’s death. This evening, police vehicles and cars flying the club’s colours cold be seen near the Al-Ittihad club in Tripoli’s Hay Demasque district.
Another crime Saadi would be held accountable for was from 1996, when he allegedly ordered his personal guards to fire live rounds into Al-Ahly team supporters after they beat Saadi’s Al-Ittihad team, Sour said. The incident left a number of people dead, with further supporters arrested and tortured after the match for chanting anti-Saadi and anti-Qaddafi slogans.
Saadi’s hatred of Al-Ahly eventually led to him ordering that the football club be demolished and turned into a rubbish dump.
Sour said that Saadi had been implicated in the setting up of pro-Qaddafi sleeper cells. Some members of such organisations who had been arrested, he said, had confessed that Saadi was behind the groups and, indeed, much of the current security crisis in Libya.
Initial investigations had already been launched, Sour said.

Sharara protestors reject government promises; blockade continues

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 5 March 2014: 
Fresh overtures by Defence Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni to protesters blockading the Sharara oilfield in south west Libya have been rebuffed as demonstrators continue their embargo of  the country’s second largest oil facility.
Thinni travelled to the Sharara field on Monday to negotiate with Tuaregs who resumed the blockade of the oilfield nearly two weeks ago. He had been pivotal in bringing an end to the last sit-in at Sharara at the beginning of January.
Mahmoud Al-Ansari, a member of the demonstrators’ committee at Sharara oilfield, told the Libya Herald that Thinni had offered protestors the same concessions as in previous negotiations and that these were yet to be enacted on the ground.
He said this time the blockade would not end until promises had materialised. Demonstrators from the ethnic minority group are insisting on the removal of Obari’s unelected Local Council which they say does not represent them. A number of Tuareg protestors are also demanding Libyan National Identity Numbers allowing them access to government services. 
Meanwhile, The National Oil Corporation (NOC) yesterday reported that oil production now stood at roughly 250,000 barrels a day. NOC spokesman Mohammed Al-Harriri said that this level had persisted for two weeks as a result of the closure of Sharara, adding that the corporation was hopeful that the issue would be revolved soon.
In 2012,  oil production was as high as 1.5 million b/d.

Bodies of kidnapped husband and wife found in Benghazi

By Noora Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 5 March 2014:
The bodies of a husband and wife kidnapped from their home in Guwarsha two days ago have been found in Benghazi.
A doctor at Benghazi Medical Centre (BMC) told the Libya Herald the couple’s bodies were taken to atthe hospital yesterday. They were identified them as Ali Salem Al-Taib and lawyer Fathaiya Al-Badri. Both had died of gunshot wounds.
One of the couple’s neighbours, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Taib and Badri had been abducted at gunpoint from their apartment building in south Benghazi by masked gunmen.
Reports that Badri was raped before being murdered have not been confirmed. The same BMC source said doctors were still waiting for the results of forensic tests but that in any event they would not divulge any information on the subject.

Airforce officer found dead in Benghazi

By Noora Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 5 March 2014:
The body of Airforce Group Captain Adam Al-Abduli was found yesterday in Benghazi. His family had noticed  him missing only a few hours earlier.
Benghazi Joint Security Room spokesman Ibrahim Al-Sharaa told the Libya Herald that Abduli had been found near Sidi Obaid Cemetery. He added that Abduli’s family had called his phone, finding it switched off, only a few hours before the discovery.
Investigations into the death are ongoing.

CBL Islamic banking conference postponed to 29-30 March

Libya Herald staff.
The CBL is organizing an international conference on Islamic banking in Libya in March (Photo: CBL FB page).
The CBL has postponed its international conference on Islamic banking until 29-30 March (Photo: CBL FB page).
Tripoli, 4 March 2014:
The international conference on Islamic banking organized by the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) in collaboration with the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank has been postponed from 1-2 March to 29-30 March.

One dead and one injured in further Benghazi 


By Noora Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 2 March 2014:
Two separate attacks in Benghazi today left one man dead and another injured.
A member of the Saiqa Special Forces, Imran Juma Al-Abeidi, died from injuries sustained after an explosive device under his car was detonated, in the Salmani district of the city. He was rushed to Benghazi Medical Centre but died there of his injuries.
The blast happened this afternoon and was witnessed by staff and students coming out of two nearby colleges. They were so shocked by what they saw that they staged a small protest in the district.
In a separate incident, a former member of the Qaddafi-era internal security apparatus, who had since worked in retail, was severely injured after being targeted by gunmen. He was shot in the head in Benghazi’s Sabri district, according to a source close to the city’s Security Directorate.

Six bodies found in Benghazi

By Noora Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 2 March 2014:
The bodies of six men were discovered by Benghazi security forces today, one in Jarutha, some 30 kilometres south west of the city, and four in Bu Mariyam, on the road from Benina airport to Al-Abyar. All had been shot.
The sixth was found in the city’s Bouhdima district, near the Saida Aisha mosque.
The bodies were taken to Benghazi Medical Centre.  
The four found at Bu Mariyam had been in their early 20s, a doctor at the hospital told the Libya Herald. It is reported that only two have been identified so far.
Claims on the internet that the four were members of Ansar Al-Sharia who fought in Syria and were on their way to Derna cannot be verified at present.
The body discovered at Jarutha had multiple gun wounds, according to Fadl Al-Hasi of the Saiqa Special Forces investigation unit.  It was badly decomposed, making identification difficult.

Senior Air Force officer killed in Benghazi

By Libya Herald staff.
Benghazi, 1 March 2014:
An air force wing commander has become the latest military official to be murdered in Benghazi. Wanis Masoud Barghathi, a member of the air force’s electronic support unit, was killed when unknown gunmen shot him in the head on Friday evening. He was rushed to the city’s Hawari hospital but pronounced dead on arrival, a doctor told the Libya Herald.
He was the 37th person to be murdered in the city in February according to security sources.
On Thursday, the body of a man named as Abdul Jalil Zatoot was taken Benghazi Medical Centre. According to a doctor, the face and chest of the 55-year-old had been burned and the body bore signs of torture.
The same day, there was a reported attempt to murder a local Libyan Airlines employee. Hassan Shafi, 65, was rushed to hospital after gunmen shot in the city’s Hawari district. He is reported to be in a stable condition.

Sirte Military Council Leader murdered

By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 1 March 2014:
The head of the military council in Sirte, Makhlouf Ben Nasser Al-Ferjani, was shot dead this morning. According to the Libyan news agency LANA, gunmen opened fire on him and then fled.
The deputy commander of one of the military forces in the town, Infantry Battalion No. 136, was also quoted saying that gunmen in a Chevrolet with tinted windows sprayed the street in front of the Sirte Security Directorate with bullets, killing him instantly.
Ali Sadiq nonetheless vowed that the killers would be found and arrested.
It is suggested that Qaddafi loyalists might be responsible. 
There had been at least two previous attempts to kill Ferjani, who was also commander of the Qardabiya Martyrs Unit – in November 2012 and then on 7 March last year. 
The November attempt came just a month after disturbances in Sirte in which, Ferjani told the Libya Herald at the time, he had arrested a number of Qaddafi supporters.
Last March, a massive nail bomb full was found under his office window at the town’s Ibn Sina Hospital and diffused. The Qardabiya Martyrs Unit were providing security for the hospital. 
Sirte is seen as the third most dangerous place in the country after Benghazi and Derna. There have been numerous murders there as well as clashes between between Misratis resident there and members of the Qadhadhfa tribe.
In January, the Deputy Minister of Industry, Hassan Al-Daroue, himself from Sirte, was also shot dead there. Again, the finger was pointed at former regime sympathisers although no evidence to that effect has been produced.
The previous month an official from the passports office was murdered by gunmen.

Following the death in December in a road accident of Colonel Salah Buhulaiga, the commander of the Zawia Martyrs Brigade which was tasked with ensuring security in the townFerjani was regarded as Sirte’s leading military figure. 
Ansar Al-Sharia is seen as a growing force in the town.

Protests cause severe disruption at Benina 


By Ashraf Abdul Wahab and Tom Westcott.
Travel to and from Benina Airport was today disrupted by protestors (Photo: )
Benina Airport, where today travel was severely disrupted by protestors (Photo: Leonard Powell)
Tripoli, 1 March 2014:
Several groups of protestors with different demands caused severe disruption at Benghazi’s Benina Airport today.
“The airport has not been officially closed, but there has been an issue all day with people blocking the passenger terminal,” Director General of Libya’s Civil Aviation Authority (LYCAA) Captain Nasereddin Shaebelain told the Libya Herald.
He said the protestors, who were blocking the entrance to the airport, were family members of the pilots lost when an Air Force helicopter went missing on 12 February.
“There are some restrictions on domestic flights but international flights are still working as usual,” Shaebelain said. “The problem remains in the passenger terminal and is not affecting aviation safety, so the LYCAA has not closed the airport.”
He said negotiations were underway and that the LYCAA hoped that the situation would be resolved soon.
This is the second protest staged by relatives demanding that the government steps up efforts to find out what happened to the helicopter, which lost communications with Benina Airbase some 30 minutes after taking off from Essider.
“The Air Force undertook immediate search and rescue operations, and these continued for way beyond the normal time-frame for a loss of an aircraft,” a Ministry of Defence source told the Libya Herald. ”The coverage area of the search focussed around the sea and coastline from Essider to Benghazi, and this continues, even though the incident occurred over two weeks ago.” He added that the Libyan Air Force had also been co-ordinating with international air and sea assets.
The source said it was essential for the Libyan Armed Forces to find the remains of the helicopter, not only for the families of the lost men but also to forensically determine whether the helicopter crashed due to a mechanical failure or if it had been shot down.
Captain Hussein Fitouri, from the Benghazi Pilot’s Union, said that other groups in and around the airport were demonstrating against the extension of the GNC and about the lack of security in Benghazi, which has provoked a number of recent protests. Some had erected a tent in the middle of the road leading to the airport, he said, preventing people from reaching Beninia.
Talks had been held, he added, between the protestors, airport staff and members of the local council.