Benghazi, 17 September:
Wanis Al-Sharif has been sacked as deputy interior minister responsible for eastern Libya. Also sacked is Hussein Abu Humaida, the head of Benghazi’s security directorate. The post of undersecretary is not being filled for the moment because the government itself will be replaced within the next three weeks, but Colonel Salah Al-Din Awad Doghman has been appointed by the Interior Ministry to take over Sharif’s work. He also becomes head of the security directorate.
The decision was taken yesterday.
Even before Tuesday’s attack on the US diplomatic mission in the city and the killing of US Ambassador and three of his staff, there had been growing criticism of Sharif’s handling of security in Benghazi. The city has seen a spate of assassinations of former regime military figures in recent weeks as well as attempted assassinations, kidnappings, bombings and attacks on security and other government buildings including the security directorate.
Sharif’s explanation of Tuesday’s events was seen as the last straw by officials as well as members of the General National Congress and the Libyan media.
He first announced that no one was in the mission at the time of the attack and then, after the news of the deaths was announced, he tried to put the blame equally on the Americans and pro-Qaddafi sympathisers. He said the demonstration outside the mission over the video film in the US attacking the Prophet Mohamed had been peaceful until US security guards started firing but also claimed that those resposnsible for the attack were Qaddafi elements.
The explanation was derided as “ridiculous” by influential Congressman Salah Ajouda Jawdah, while Congress leader Mohamed Magarief refuted it, saying that the attack was premeditated.
Questions are also being asked why it took so long for security forces, for which Sharif was reposnsible, to get to the US mission after the attack began.