x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Libya PM to reshuffle ministries

Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan has announced he will reshuffle his government in the coming days, a move aimed at ending the country's current political crisis.

TRIPOLI // Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan yesterday announced he would reshuffle his government in the coming days, a move aimed at ending the country's current political crisis.

Mr Zeiden said a figure had been chosen for the defence portfolio yesterday and vowed to "present a list of ministers to the General (National) Congress" either today or tomorrow.

Libya has not had a defence minister since the removal of Mohammed Al-Barghathi from the post in late June. Mr Zeidan, speaking at a news conference, did not give the names of any of the candidates or other portfolios that will be affected by the reshuffle.

The prime minister also announced the reactivation of the Internal Security Agency to try to stem the violence currently sweeping the country. "I understand the population's opposition to this agency that was used by the former regime to repress the people. But without an efficient intelligence body, we cannot stop the attacks," he said.

The prime minister spoke after at least one soldier was killed in overnight fighting in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, a security official said yesterday, in violence that has surged since last week's killing of an anti-Islamist political activist.

The clashes erupted in the western Gwesha district between an armed group and military special forces, hours after explosions that targeted buildings used by the judiciary wounding 43.

"Clashes broke out between special forces and an unknown armed group," Mohammed Al-Hijazy, a spokesman for Benghazi security operations, said by telephone. "At least one soldier was killed. The special forces have now retaken control."

The cradle of the 2011 uprising against Muammar Qaddafi, Benghazi has witnessed explosions, assassinations, violent demonstrations and a mass jail break in the last three days.

Hundreds of protesters had attacked the Benghazi and Tripoli offices of Libya's Muslim Brotherhood and the headquarters of a liberal coalition in the capital after Friday demonstrations turned violent.

Those protests were prompted by the killing of prominent Brotherhood critic Abdelsalam Al-Mosmary, who was shot after leaving a Benghazi mosque.

Violence has plagued Benghazi since last year with attacks on security forces as well as foreign targets, including an assault on the US mission in September that left Washington's ambassador and three other Americans dead.