By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 2 February:
The press had got used to Prime Minister Ali Zeidan parading numerous Ministers in one go at his weekly press conferences – but never before had he crammed it in with as many as 19 Ministers in one go!
The weekly press conference was moved to Wednesday last week, hopefully as a response to requests from members of the press to shift it from the Thursday (weekend!) evening slot.
When the press department had alerted us to the 6.30 pm press conference earlier in the day, we were led to believe that Zeidan might not be there and that four Ministers: Health, Local Government, Housing and Interior would be.
As it turned out, Zeidan was very much centre stage orchestrating the musical chairs as seven Ministers tried to share four chairs at the top table. The rest of the dozen or so Ministers had to huddle away on the sofas either side of the raised stage as they awaited their cues.
As for the poor PM’s press team, hard as they tried to make the press conference look slick and organised - they could not control Zeidan’s insistence on playing musical chairs live on TV.
What is clear is that Zeidan is beginning to like his weekly press conferences – when he is in the country at least. Not a single Minister answered a question directed to him or her without the PM either preempting with his own reply or augmenting a Minister’s reply.
The PM is definitely dominating his team. At one stage he insisted that the Minister of Youth take his place as he shifted to the end of the table. But very soon he was back in the quarterback position orchestrating the whole press conference.
Just off mic, there was quite a bit of banter by the PM with his team – in between the serious faces when having to respond to questions on security, strikes, etc.
I think it is quite clear that the PM is getting to like all these meetings and conferences. No sooner than he had been appointed as Prime Minister, Zeidan did a whirlwind tour of Libya’s neighbouring states, then Qatar and this week Davos and Addis Ababa.
I am not suggesting that they were not imperative to Libya’s security and national interest – but Zeidan seems to be growing into the role. He does not give the impression of the bunker mentality that his predecessor seemed to. But Libya has moved on since late 2011 when Al-Kib became PM.
He keeps promising things will change for the better very soon. His press conference performance is showing more confidence. Let’s hope his government delivery improves too – and very soon. The crowds are getting restless.