By Saber Ayyub.
Tripoli, 31 March 2016:
The self-styled National Salvation government appointed by the rump of the General National Congress and led . . .[restrict]by Khalifa Ghwell has not so much collapsed as completely vanished. Ghwell is reported to have left Tripoli last night for Misrata. The prime ministry on the Sikka Road was taken over yesterday afternoon by members of Presidency Council’s Temporary Security Committee. Its files and computers were sealed.
Meanwhile Government of National Accord prime minister-designate Faiez Serraj has been receiving a succession of visitors at his temporary base in the Bu Sitta naval base next to Tripoli’s main port. Among his guests was governor of the Libyan Central Bank Saddek Elkaber, who challenged his firing by the Beida-based Thinni government last June and stayed in post. Serraj also saw the heads of all 13 Tripoli area municipalities.
It is believed that officials from around the city were instructed to go to the naval base to meet Serraj, who also saw a number of civil society activists. It is not clear if his visitors included any army officers who had thrown in their lot with the GNC and Libya Dawn. It is reported that one person who declined to go to Bu Sitta was Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani, the former Grand Mufti, who only yesterday warned the Presidency Council that if it did not quit Tripoli, “there are weapons in every house”.
A crowd gathered this afternoon in Algeria Square and marched to Martyrs’ Square shouting “Bye Bye Abu Sahmain”, the president of what remains of the GNC.
A reliable Misrata source has told the Libya Herald that elders from that city as well as members of its military council travelled to Tripoli yesterday and met Ghwell. “They told him it was over. He had to give up. If he did not go, they themselves would remove him”. Ghwell is sad to have left for Misrata, his home town, with the delegation. The Misratans also reportedly visited Martyrs’ Square where Misratan militia leader Salah Badi had been holding an anti-Serraj demo. “ They told him to go home,” said the source “and he did”.
Another Misratan who is said to have gone home is Jamal Zubia who headed Ghwell’s foreign media department. Early today the Foreign Media Department (FMD) announced that Ghwell would be giving another press conference “within minutes”. But nothing happened. Later the FMD, which has until now published often sarcastic comments on news about the GNA and Serraj, carried a report of one of the Serraj’s meeting today without comment. Attempts by this newspaper to contact Zubia were unsuccessful.
The capital woke up this morning to relative calm after last night’s clashes. One local resident said that he believed that all of the firing had been purely for demonstration. “ I don’t think a shot was fired in anger by anyone” he said. There have been no reports from Tripoli hospitals of dead and wounded.
A lot of workers decided to stay home. Government offices were reportedly thinly staffed. Some schools stayed shut while others opened but not all parents brought their children.
“The ministry hadn’t announced anything,” education ministry spokesman Mohamed Sultan told the Libya Herald, “ and this led to confusion among school managers, as to whether or not they should be operating. Even here at the ministry only half the staff showed up”. [/restrict]