Libyans run for cover after fighting broke out outside the office of Libya Shield pro-government militia in Benghazi, Libya. June 8, 2013 (AP/APTV)
January 13, 2014
LONDON — The slaying of a Libyan government minister – the first killing of a top official since the ouster two years ago of dictator Moammar Gadhafi—is adding to alarms about Libya’s future. Three days of ethnic clashes in the south of the country and a prolonged standoff between Libya’s parliament and Prime Minister have prompted tribal leaders to unveil a “Save Libya” plan but some observers question whether they have any authority left to impose order.
The assassination of Hassan al-Darouei, a deputy industry minister, as he drove home from a shopping trip in the Mediterranean port city of Sirte, 450 Kilometers east of the capital Tripoli, capped two days of violence that saw an assassination attempt on a separatist leader in the eastern town of Beida and the killing of a Special Forces officer who was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in the town of Derna.
The government minister’s killing came amid rising tensions in the south of Libya where African-origin Tabu tribesmen battled Arabs in the desert city of Sabha in running battles that left 31 dead and 65 injured, according to the country’s health ministry. Ethnic violence has been endemic in Libya’s south but has worsened since Gadhafi’s ouster with flare-ups becoming more intense.
This latest episode has so far proven difficult to mediate by tribal elders drawn from across Tripoli, Misrata and Zintan. Mediation teams of elders have managed in the past to bring ethnic fighting quickly to a halt.
Sabha isn’t the only place tribal elders are trying to defuse conflict. With politics increasingly paralyzed in the capital between Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) and Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who is under pressure to resign and has been weakened by political infighting and the refusal of wayward militias spawned from the uprising against Gadhafi to disband, tribal leaders are now trying to craft a “Save Libya” plan.[Full article]