By Houda Mzioudet.
Tripoli, 20 June, 2013:
The Prime Minister has called on Tawerghans to call off their plan to . . .[restrict]unilaterally move back to their town on 25 June.
“Tawerghans should not return to their hometown at present,” Ali Zeidan said during a press conference today in Tripoli.
Tawergha’s 35,000 inhabitants were expelled by Misratan forces in August 2011 who held them collectively responsible for the actions of Tawerghan fighters who supported the Qaddafi regime during the revolution, accusing them of comitting atrocities against Misratans during the earlier siege of Misrata. The Tawerghans have since been living in a number of refugee camps across Libya. Last month, their community leaders announced that they would return to the town, with or without support from Libyan officialsdom or intenational organisations. Misratans, however, have vowed to prevent the move.
Speaking today, the Prime Minister said that the government was working on the issue.
“Everyone has the right to live anywhere in Libya and Tawerghans have the right to return to their hometown”, Zeidan said. But he also added that Misrata had a right to have reservations about the decision of Tawerghans to return and that there was a “deep open wound” that had to be healed. In the circumstances, the Tawerghans should not try and force the situation.
There was a need “to avoid any direct confrontation between the two sides, which will make the situation worsen,” Zeidan stressed.
He asked Tawerghans to “stay in their place” and leave the matter to the government to find a solution. He stated that he had discussed the issue with various GNC members. There needed to be further consultation to “find ground for understanding,” he said.
Zeidan’s statement comes two days after the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of UNSMIL (the UN Support Mission in Libya), Tarek Mitri, expressed his own concerns to members of the UN Security Council about the Tawerghans’ decision to return, warning that the move was “fraught with risks.”