By Ajnadin Mustafa,
23 October 2014:
The Prime Minister has has appointed Brigadier-General Masoud Erhuma as Libya’s new Defence Minister. The post was left . . .[restrict]unfilled when the new cabinet was finally approved by the HoR last month. Abdullah Al-Thinni who had held onto the portfolio when appointed temporary Prime Minister in March by the former General National Congress had wanted to retain it but the HoR insisted that cabinet members have no more than job.
The new minister, from the Jebel Nafusa town of Rajban, near Zintan, lives in Tripoli and has a masters degree in law. Contrary to earlier reports, his appointment has yet to be officially confined by the HoR.
He was the first senior army officer in the west of the country to turn against the Qaddafi regime at the beginning of revolution, on 19 Fberuary 2011. He was in charge of the military camp in Zawia at the time which he handed over to local revolutionaries along with weapons. Khamis Qaddafi then issued a warrant for his arrest, dead or alive. Erhuma had to hide in farms around Surman and Sabratha, unable to escape to the Jebel for six months because of guards at the checkpoints in the area looking specifically for him. His did manage, however, to smuggle his family to Jordan.
After the war, he was appointed a military prosecutor and was considered for the post of Chief of Staff on more than one occasion, most recently in June last year. In the event, he was bitterly opposed by the then head of Congress’ Defence Committee, the controversial militant Islamist member for Zawia, Mohamed Kilani, who was killed in fighting against the Wershefana last month.
Kilani and members of the Islamist Waha bloc accused Erhuma of being a Qaddafi supporter and having killed Zawia revolutionaries. As a result he was investigated but found innocent.
“He’s a nationalist – a good man,” a top Zintani official said today on hearing of the appointment. [/restrict]