By Maha Ellawati.
Benghazi, 22 November:
Benghazi’s police force have rejected the appointment of Colonel Saleheddin Awad Daghman as the new chief of . . .[restrict] police in Benghazi, following the assassination of his predecessor Colonel Faraj Mohammed Idris Drissi yesterday.
Daghman was previously rejected by the police in the aftermath of the killing of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens on 11 September, after the government attempted to place him in charge of security in the eastern region.
Members of the force are said to be angry at the rapid appointment of Daghman, declaring that they will consider no potential successor until the three days of mourning for Drissi are over.
The former chief of the security directorate was laid to rest yesterday in Benghazi’s Hawari cemetery, following a funeral in Tahrir square attended by members of his family and the police.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan also delivered a message in response to the killing, in which he extended his condolences to Drissi’s family and urged against any vigilante retaliation.
“I offer my deepest sympathy to our precious city of Benghazi for the loss of this martyr of duty; for Libya’s loss of the Director of Benghazi’s Security Directorate, and for this occasion, I urge, with all love and sincerity, our beloved people of Benghazi to practice self restraint and to consider the late Mr Drissi a martyr of duty, who died for the sake of the nation, and for Libya’s sake.”
Drissi was gunned down outside his home in the early hours of Wednesday morning by unknown assailants. The motive of the attackers is unknown, but there are suspicions the attack may relate to a decree circulated by the security directorate on 10 October to all police stations in Benghazi authorising officers to use force against outlawed militias still operating in the city.
The decision read as follows: “To the head of departments and national security stations, you are authorised to use force against all outlaws of armed brigades, those who storm your headquarters in order to release detainees, confiscate your weapons, sabotage equipment or damage vehicles. I will take full responsibility for such decisions as an official”.
Benghazi has been the scene of a disturbing spate of killings against senior security officials over the past year, almost all of whom were formally associated with the Qaddafi regime.
Drissi was well known in Benghazi for his role in combating drugs in the city during the Qaddafi era and subsequently, but he was not not believed to have been politically involved with the regime. His work in this regard may also have made him a target.
To date, Drissi is reckoned to be the eighteenth senior security officer to have been murdered in Benghazi this year, in what some believe is a systematic campaign of targeted assassination. [/restrict]