By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 13 February 2017:
It is thought that issues within Sirte are the reason for the kidnapping of its mayor, Mukhtar Al-Madani. He disappeared along with his two bodyguards on Saturday night, around 9 pm while on the road to Tripoli. It is believed that the three were seized somewhere near Khoms, some 120 kilomtres east of Tripoli.
An official in Tripoli told the Libya Herald that two hours before he was kidnapped he had spoken by phone to him, and that Madani has said that he was just leaving Sirte at that moment and heading to the capital.
Two weeks ago, three of the seven municipal council members suspended their membership in protest at Madani’s leadership style. He was accused of making appointments with consulting them and the PC was called on to intervene. Officials doubt that they were involved, believing that others in Sirte were responsible. However, it is known that Ibrahim Mlitan, one of the three boycotting councillors, all of whom support Misrata, wanted to be mayor.
Officials also discount any Misratan link to the kidnapping despite the fact that Misrata was opposed to Madani becoming mayor because of his perceived links with the Thinni administration in Beida.
Since becoming mayor, though, Madani is generally seen as having put national divisions aside and concentrated on Sirte’s problems.
“With residents returning, he was doing good work, trying to fund funds to rebuild Sirte, and asking help from the international community,” said Otman Gajiji, the head of the Central Committee for Municipal Council elections.
The town’s Municipal Council has expressed its concerns about Madani’s wellbeing and demanded security forces do all they can to find him.
For their part, civil society organisations in Sirte say they hold the Presidency Council and its security units responsible for Madani’s safety.
UN special envoy to Libya Martin Kobler has condemned the abduction, demanding Madani’s immediate release.