By Taziz Hasairi.
Tripoli, 30 March 2014:
It certainly was not the best of times for 38 ordinary residents of Zawia . . .[restrict]and Zuwara. It may not even have been the worst of times, but it was fairly unpleasant and it was extremely frustrating for lots of their fellow residents.
Relations between the two coastal towns took a downward spiral this last week after two Zawians were arrested in Zuwara on Thursday on suspicion of fraud. They were caught by the local Counter Crime Agency after a complaint from a man in Misrata.
The move sparked outrage in Zawia. That night local revolutionaries blocked the coastal road to Zuwarans traveling to and from Tripoli and 12 of them were seized. A message was sent to Zuwara Local Council that they would not be released until the two Zawians were freed.
The following day, Friday, Zuwara Local Council told a member of Zawia’s Shoura Council and one from Zawia Local Council, both of whom had arrived to negotiate a solution, that the two alleged fraudsters would be taken to court and if it decided to free them, that would be fine by them. But “we will not”, they are reported to have told the two Zawians who were then asked to release the dozen Zuwarans.
They could not do this, the two negotiators said. They had no control over the militiamen who had captured the twelve.
In response, Zuwaran revolutionaries who had set up their own roadblocks looking for Zawians travelling to and from Tunisia grabbed 18 of them. Zawia countered by seizing another eight Zuwarans.
Other ordinary residents from both places driving to Tripoli or Tunisia found themselves ordered back when they reached roadblocks at one or other town.
By Saturday, tempers were beginning to calm. A Zuwara Local Council told the Libya Herald yesterday morning that Zawia’s threats would not be tolerated. The law was the law and would be enforced. “We shall not release the two prisoners charged with fraud,” he said.
“But we would release the 18 hostages we have,” he said in conciliatory tones.
Following further negotiations, both sides then releases their hostages, none of whom had been hurt or had anything more serious done to them other than having their mobile phones removed. The road blocks were removed.
Meanwhile, proceedings against the two at the centre of the spat took place in a court in Aujilat today. They are now being transferred for trial at a court in – Zawia. [/restrict]