By Ashraf Abdul Wahab and Mohammed Eljarh.
Tripoli, 5 December:
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was attacked by a local militia in Beida yesterday, . . .[restrict]Tuesday, during an ongoing tour of eastern Libya.
Members of the Ali Hassan Al-Jaber brigade stormed the building in which Zeidan was due to hold a meeting with Beida Local Council, and reportedly smashed the vehicle in which the prime minister had been travelling.
Zeidan’s security detail managed to get him out of the building safely and the meeting was cancelled.
“The protesters were angry that Zeidan did not hold the meeting in one of the special meeting halls in the town itself, but chose instead to hold it on the town’s outskirts”, said Captain Mayouf Ali, a local security official.
“The protesters said that officials must make an effort by going to public squares and contemplating the plights and problems facing citizens and not by holding secret meetings in farms and private homes.”
Whether or not Mayouf’s account fully explains the militia’s actions, what is certain is the depth of resentment felt in certain parts of eastern Libya that their concerns are being ignored by the central government.
Zeidan’s tour of eastern Libya, which comes after a three day tour of Benghazi by National Congress President Magarief, is reckoned to be part of a high-level effort to help rectify that.
On Monday, Zeidan began his tour of the east with a visit to Tobruk where he discussed issues including border control, illegal immigration and weapons smuggling, as well as the problem of ongoing tensions between Libyans and Egyptians at the Salloum border crossing.
The prime minister also discussed the town’s housing and infrastructure needs and promised to get more Turkish companies to resume their operations in both areas. He also emphasised the importance of Tobruk and its strategic location, and vowed to develop the seaport and airport in the city.
Zeidan’s visit to the town was also disrupted, however, by protesters who had previously threatened to occupy the oil refinery and cut the oil flow in protest at months of unpaid salaries.
The prime minister has also visited Derna, where he met the local council and other leaders and was in Benghazi on Monday for the funeral of Mansour Rashid Al-Kikhia.