By Sami Zaptia:
Tripoli, 9 March 2013:
At last Wednesday’s (6th March) press conference, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and his Interior Minister Ashur . . .[restrict]Shuwail, reacted strongly to criticism of their government.
This criticism was specifically against his government’s lack of reaction to the holding hostage of GNC members by a group of armed demonstrators.
“I have received reports regarding posts on Facebook saying that we are a weak government”, Zeidan opened in the press conference. “This is not true”, he stated. “From the early hours (of the surrounding of the GNC members in a building in the Kremia area of Tripoli) members of the intelligence service, army and security surrounded the site”, he revealed, contrary to general reports that there was no sign of significant security presence at the remote site.
“But we wanted to step carefully. It is very easy to open fire and cause bloodshed. We are careful not weak. The citizen and human beings have a value”, stressed Zeidan, justifying his government’s unwillingness to meet force with force. “Acting with wisdom and being effective without causing casualties or damage, that is strength”, explained the Prime Minister.
“The presence of arms at the demonstration is proof that there was a premeditated desire to attack the GNC members. The general public asks why the government is slow in passing laws and taking effective action…yet incidents like this delay the passing of laws including the budget”, Zeidan said.
“We will take steps so it is not repeated”, he promised, “but you (the public) should stand with us if there is loss of life. When we use force the public must know that we are using force against people breaking the law”, he added appealing to the public for support.
“We don’t want this or that tribe or city complaining about their citizens. They must know that their sons will be dealt with by force and should restrain their sons”, he said in anticipation of a reaction to any deaths at the hands of government security personnel. “
“We hear many inaccurate reports about the Prime Minister, the government, the GNC and its head, which we accept. But attacks on GNC members are another matter. We won’t let anyone kidnap the government and the law”, he stressed. “I pay tribute to the GNC members for their strength, determination and for standing firm, Zeidan added.
Asked by the press about the alleged role of some GNC members in either inciting or coordinating this violent demonstration, the Prime Minister said he “had no comment” and that that was a GNC matter.
Asked if the timing of his forthcoming visit to Egypt was right in view of the security situation in the country, Zeidan said that his visit also dealt with “security issues”.
More interestingly, in view of all the furor by the GNC that followed his recent Paris conference trip, Zeidan revealed that he had “requested permission from the GNC head to travel” which he had obtained.
He said that the Libyan-Egyptian border has “many goods, people, animals, smuggled goods, armed groups” that pass across it, and therefore it had ramifications on security. He also revealed that general border issues and the opening of consulates in Tobruk and in Marsa Matruh would be discussed.
ASHOUR SHUWAIL: violent demonstrations will continue as long as there are arms on the streets.
Interior Minister Ashour Shuwail for his part, said his Ministry “were not informed by the GNC of their choice of location to hold their meeting. The site was inappropriate as it only had one entrance”, he complained. Shuwail praised the GNC head for his level headedness during the incident. “We were ready to intervene, but the GNC head decided otherwise”.
Interior Minister Shuwail felt that these types of non-peaceful demonstrations will continue “as long as there are arms spread and there are armed groups who want to obtain their aims by the use of force – closing roads, hospitals, airports, oil sites by the use of force for personal gain”, he explained.
He admitted that “the biggest problem was in the capital Tripoli. Most streets and areas have armed groups in them’, he revealed.
Shuwail then also appealed for help from the general community. “We want NGOs, tribes and families to end this. There will be combing operations of all areas using a specific unit. People are being kidnapped, the GNC head’s car was fired upon by armed people, he complained adding that his government “was preparing a plan for action. There will be no going back”, said the Interior Minister,
“Any militia that does not follow our orders we will not deal with it and we will no longer recognize it”. [/restrict]