By Hadi Furnaji
Tripoli, April 11
Tuesday’s attack on the government’s headquarters in Tripoli was in revenge at the government’s decision to suspend . . .[restrict]promised payments to revolutionaries.
Members of the battalions who carried out the attack have said that they targeted Prime Minister Abdurrahim Al-Kib and the Finance Minister Hassan Zaglam whose presence outside the building coincided with the ex-fighters’ arrival, because they had made the decision to temporary stop financial grant awarded to the rebels without any justification.
The assault on the Council of Ministers headquarters involved a number of armed groups who fired shots inside the building.
Sources close to the prime minister have denied that he and his chief of staff were physically assaulted in the attack.
Security around the building has since been strengthened
The government has called the violence “criminal” saying that it attacked Libyan sovereignty and violated the law, and that it rejected threats and blackmail.
The attack followed the government decision on Monday to suspend payments to men who fought against the Qaddafi regime last year — LD 4,000 for married fighters and LD 2,400 for unmarried ones. It said it was doing so because the scheme riddled with corruption and that people who do not qualify had been paid.
In the past three months some LD 1.8 billion has been paid out.
The scheme has led to a number of instances of violence and even loss of life whenclaimants arrived at local military council offices and found that their names were missing from the lists or the names of others who never fought were included.
It had been left to local military councils to draw up the lists and pay out the funds provided to them from the Central Bank. It is claimed that some officials have been acting corruptly, adding the same names more than once, thus enabling them to be paid more than their fair share, or those of people who never fought.
“The corruption is too much,” NTC spokesman Mohammed Al-Hareizi was quoted by Reuters as saying. “Some of the people on the lists aren’t even alive.”
The government statement following the attacks said the decision to temporarily suspend the payments was fully justified. The aim, it said, was to eliminate the fraud which was used in lists submitted for grants and thus stop draining the public funds and preserve the country’s wealth.
The government added that it would, in order to preserve the state and its institutions, be compelled in future to use force to impose law and protect state institutions. It called on revolutionaries to renounce violence and denounce acts of sabotage carried out in their name. It was their duty to protect the revolution, not to attack it or use it for personal gain.
On March 22, the government’s offices were besieged by brigadesmen claiming they had not been given the payment and demanding they paid the money.
A few days earlier, the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani pointed to the flaws in the system, issuing a fatwa forbidding anyone who had not fought last year from taking a payment and ordering those who had to pay the money back to the Central Bank.