By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 18 July 2013:
Exasperated by his government’s inability to bring law and order and security to the country, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, speaking at Sunday’s press conference, said that his government may have to “use force”.
Zeidan condemned the “selfish” behaviour and “lack of patriotism” by some Libyans in post revolution Libya. He attacked those who steal and nab in the name of the thuwar (revolutionary fighters) and those who put their personal interests above those of the nation.
“We may cut wages and sack those who strike and hold up national interests”, said Zeidan, referring to the strategic Zueitina Oil and Gas Terminal strikers who have cut off gas supplies to power stations causing wide electricity cuts in Tripoli.
The Prime Minister, who has on numerous previous occasions refused to “spill further Libyan blood” by confronting law-breakers by force in the past, seems to be on the verge of a u-turn on this controversial policy.
Many Libyans have criticized Zeidan for not protecting the right of the overwhelming majority who had voted-in a congress (the GNC) and government peacefully and legally. Many complain that Prime Minister Zeidan is more concerned about the spilling of the blood of the minority of militias, criminals and law breakers rather than the peaceful, law-abiding majority.
Some wonder whether Zeidan does not have the force – enough army and police – to enforce the law of the majority, or whether he does not have the political will in the form of support from the GNC. Others question whether he has the political courage.
Zeidan has often admitted that neither him and his government nor the GNC have the experience or knowhow politically. Some are questioning whether he is still the right man for the job as he seems to be stagnating, unable to move the nation forward.
In his defence, there are some, including Zeidan himself, who feel that even if he were to be changed – the next Prime Minister would be equally as inacapable. Zeidan has said himself that both the his current government and the state are “weak”.
Unfortunately, it is not what the general public wants to hear. The average Libyan wants to be uplifted and given hope about the future of the country. They don’t want to hear a Prime Minister who keeps hoping solely on god for help asking them for unlimited patience. They dont want a leader who puts his hands up and says he is weak – further weakening himself before his enemies – internal and external.
They want a strong leader who exhibits strength and leadership traits, fighting their corner for their rights – their democratically gained rights. They want a leader who acts and talks strong – even if he is weak.
The strike by the strategic Zueitina Oil and Gas Terminal workers has put the government in a very difficult position. They had invested heavily financially and politically into having minor power cuts during the fasting month of Ramadan by importing expensive generators.
The Zueitina strike has negated this move and Zeidan is feeling the pressure – to the extent that he has threatened to use force to end the strike – or any future minority action that affects the national interest.
It will be interesting to see if Zeidan lives up to his words, or if this is just the exasperations of a frustrated man. Libyans have often speculated as to how strong the official security forces are and whether they would confront their fellow thuwar and actually fire at them if ordered.
Either way, something must give. The general public are getting frustrated at a state that has an oil income and an announced budget of 67 billion, yet two and a half years after the revolution, things are still progressing at a snail’s pace.
Moreover, it is clear to most Libyans that a minority of criminals, lawbreakers and illegal armed groups are the ones holding up the progress of the nation, preventing the resumption of projects and the restart of the economy.