Tripoli, 8 July, 2013.
By Houda Mzioudet and Nigel Ash
Fighting between Zintan and Ghariyan appears to have been avoided after the councils . . .[restrict]of elders in both town agreed to defuse tensions that arose after Ghariyan seized 13 Zintani vehicles, allegedly carrying arms to Tripoli.
The Zintani response to the interception on Saturday had been to seize a number of Ghariyanis in Tripoli. Officials from both side told the Libyan news agency LANA that they had been anxious to avoid any bloodshed. The exchange of prisoners took place on Sunday and both sides confirmed that their own people had not been subjected to any beatings or torture. It was also denied that there had been any firing between forces from either town. It is also understood that the 13 Zintani vehicles at the heart of the dispute, were also handed back.
The agreement among the elders came despite Ghariyan’s refusal, along with Misrata, to attend a national conference held on Saturday in Zintan to look at the challenges of statehood. The conference drew elders from tribes and cities around Libya. Debates included, appropriately enough, achieving reconciliation among warring tribes and towns , as well as looking at security issues, particularly in Tripoli and Benghazi.
The meeting called for the dissolution of political parties and the reactivation of the role of police and Libyan army.
There was criticism of the failure of the GNC to achieve the constitutional goals set for it in the Constitutional Declaration. The meeting also criticised the monopoly of political parties and associations and political blocs on national, political and security decisions. Many delegates spoke of public frustration with both the political process and security at local and national levels.
The meeting also noted the lack of “a national and neutral vision in dealing with Libyan revolutionaries, the battalions and security apparatuses as well as military forces that have worked during the liberation of Libya”. It also spoke of “the rampant moral, financial and administrative corruption in the country” as well as the “lack of a programme to revive the national economy and the wheel of development”.
There was agreement that the most important objective of the meeting was the building of “civil state, a constitutional democracy that is able to accommodate all Libyans in various social and political backgrounds, within the framework of the principles and values of justice and citizenship.”
The meeting finally highlighted “the contribution of cities and Libyan tribes in addressing differences and tensions and accelerate the process of building a political state”, and work “to create a national charter for Libyan cities tribes to reinforce national cohesion, across the transitional phase in the shortest time and with the lowest costs”. Just a few hours later the Zintan elders were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the method when they hammered out the deal with their opposite numbers in Ghariyan.