Tripoli, 19 January:
It is still unclear this evening if Minister of Defence Mohammed Mahmoud Al-Barghathi was the target of gunfire, that broke out while he was visiting military commanders at the Tobruk Air Force base.
A reporter from the Libyan News Agency (LANA) filed saying the 71 year-old minister had not been targeted. It was simply that warning shots had been fired by the minister’s bodyguard, after a dispute between military units at the airport.
Yet Barghathi’s recently-appointed deputy Khalid Sharif, told AFP: “As the minister prepared to leave the airport by car, his bodyguard traded fire with angry soldiers and ex-rebels, but the minister was not hurt.”
Some sources believe the cause of the dispute is unlikely to have been anything to do with the phased replacement of deputy ministers who served under the Kib government. Yet it is possible that the protest was prompted by the firing of the previous deputy minister of defence, Al-Sadiq Al-Mabrouk.
On 11 January, Khalid Sharif was one of three former revolutionaries chosen by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan to take over deputy-ministerial roles. The other two are Abdullah Mansour Zwai, who has become Deputy Minister of the Interior and Mohammed Rajeyli , who has taken on the job of Deputy Minister for Martyrs and Missing Persons. These appointments appear designed to win the confidence and backing of former fighters.