By Ahmed Elumami
Tripoli, 17 June 2013:
The Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, held a security summit in Benghazi on Sunday aimed at boosting security in the city and support for army and police. In attendance were the Deputy Prime Minister Awad Al-Barasi, the Interior Minister Mohamed Al-Sheikh, a dozen Benghazi Congress members and the local council, as well as Mohamed Al-Shareef, the head of the Joint Security Room in Benghazi.
Stressing that he and the Interior Minister had been following events in the city from the beginning of the current crisis, Zeidan insisted that his government was strongly focused on the city’s needs following the attacks over the past 10 days. He announced that more military equipment would be delivered in a bid to increase security there. A number of armoured vehicles had arrived on Sunday, he said, and more vehicles as well as weapons, ammunition and body protection would be sent to support the work of the city’s Joint Security Room.
It coordinates the work of the army, the police and intelligence.
Congress members have been critical of the government’s handling of the situation since 31 people were killed nine days ago and many more wounded when protests against the presence of the First Libya Shield Brigade (Deraa 1) turned violent. Then two days ago, six soldiers were killed in a coordinated attack on army and security installations across Benghazi by as many as 200 gunmen whom some claim were linked to Deraa 1. Other reports blame Ansar Al-Sharia.
It would not be easy to disband the Sheild, Benghazi Congressman Ahmed Langhi told the Libya Herald following12-hour security session on Saturday involving the city’s Congress members, Barasi and members of Joint Security Room. It was a power in the land and had legitimacy, having been created by the General Staff. However, it had to be integrated into the army, not as a unit but by members transferring individually. “We do not want civilians as members of the military,” Langhi explained.
Responding to yesterday’s meeting and picking up on the widespread disappointment in the city that the Prime Minister had not been tough enough in his response to the crisis, Benghazi Congressman Alaeddin Mgariaf said that it was not enough. “The meeting, which was held in Benghazi yesterday is only moral support. But the government must take more effective measures,” he told the Libya Herald.
The government should move to Benghazi, Mgariaf added, and there put into action important areas of development such as health, the economy and security. He said that young men chose to join the Shield forces and military brigades because there was no another choice.
It has been reported that several dozen local young men tried to force their way into the meeting to air their demands to Zeidan about the lack of security and the town’s economic needs.
At his press conference in Benghazi, Zeidan called for people to be patient. The government, he said, still needed more time to have better results.