Libya defense minister to be replaced


TRIPOLI: Libya’s premier said on Thursday (Friday in Manila) he will replace his defense minister a day after fighting in Tripoli between groups of ex-rebels highlighted a lack of security nearly two years after dictator Moamer Kadhafi fell.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said in a speech that the country’s highest political authority, the General National Congress (GNC), had asked for Defense Minister Mohammed al-Barghathi’s resignation.

“Members of the Congress asked the defense minister to resign or leave office,” Zeidan said.

“The defense minister will be thanked and we are going to name a new minister,” he said.

Barghathi had already announced his resignation on May 7 before withdrawing it again just hours later at Zeidan’s request.

His resignation last month came after the GNC passed a law on May 5 banning officials who had served under Kadhafi from government jobs.

That law could also affect Barghathi, who was an air force commander under the Kadhafi regime.

Thursday’s announcement came after clashes erupted between two ex-rebel groups in the Abu Slim area of Tripoli.

On Wednesday, an armed group from the western city of Zintan attacked the Tripoli headquarters of another group to free five of their comrades who had been seized and were being held there.

The Zintanis freed their colleagues and ransacked the building.

Five people were killed in the fighting and another 97 wounded, the health ministry said.

The interim head of Libya’s army, General Salem al-Konidi, said: “We tried to intervene, but our resources did not allow it.”

“The government refuses to equip the army,” Konidi told Al-Ahrar television channel.
In his speech on Thursday, Zeidan decried the “painful events” that took place in the capital on Wednesday, and called for “draconian and drastic measures to disarm the civil population.”



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