Sebha, 2 April:
Prime Minister Abdurrahim Al-Kib flew into Sebha yesterday in an effort to bring about a resolution to a dispute now believed to have killed 147 people and left 395 wounded and demonstrate the government’s commitment to the area. Currently, a ceasefire between the warring parties, Tebus and local Sebha residents largely from the Abu Seif tribe, appears to be holding. Al-Kib was companied by Defense Minister Colonel Osama Juwaili, the Commander-in-Chief General Yousef Al-Mangoush and the chief of intelligence department.
Asked to give his assessment of the situation, Al-Kib responded, “It’s much better than I thought”.
The conflict in Sebha, which began on March 26, has echoes of February’s dispute in the south-eastern region of Kufra, where inter-tribal rivalries and migratory issues led to a series of clashes that left more than 130 people dead. In both conflicts, Tebus and fighters from neighbouring Chad have been drawn into violence with ethnic Arabs who view the Tebu as foreigners.
In Kufra, order was ultimately restored when Libyan armed forces were sent to the region. Some 3,000 soldiers and border guards have also been deployed to Sebha, and local residents are hoping for a similar outcome here.
Speaking in Sebha, Al-Kib sought to emphasise Libyan unity, stating that “Every Libyan is important to us. We’re going to take care of them like we do take care of any other Libyan, like brothers and sisters.” He did, however, acknowledge the wider context of the disputes: “This problem has an historical background”, he said, “the past regime has used and abused this problem”.
Al-Kib also denounced attacks against people and their property regardless of their tribal affiliations. They were were against law he said. During his meeting with Sebha locals he said that the government would take action against those involved in such attacks.
Regarding the armed forces in Sebha, AL-Kib said that the military leadership and armed forces in south would not be in the hands of any city or any revolutionary brigade. It would come under the defence ministry alone and that an officer for Sebha military zone which includes Shatti, Sebha. Obari, Ghat, and Murzuk, had been appointed.
Meanwhile NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil declared the southern region of Libya to be a military zone, and confirmed a military leader had been appointed following the recent ceasefire agreement in the area. Speaking at a new conference on Sunday in Tripoli, Jalil also confirmed that national army forces had now secured all locations in Sebha.
According to the TNC, the Libyan air force is currently on patrol over Sebha and the surrounding areas to ensure full implementation of the ceasefire. The TNC statement added that most of the wounded were taken to Tripoli and that the Ministry of Health had sent ambulances and medical supplies to the city.