By Ashraf Abdul Wahab and Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 11 October 2013:
A clearly reinvigorated Prime Minister Ali Zeidan this evening delivered a hour-long . . .[restrict]fighting speech on national television, in which he described his abduction as a ‘coup’, blamed GNC opponents for sabotaging the business of government, vowed firm action against his abductors and signalled an imminent crackdown.
“I urge Libyans to understand the consequences of us using force against those who hold government to ransom” he said in a television broadcast , “and not to blame us when it happens ….Yesterday’s events will be a turning point for my government and we’ll make sure it is for the better.”
Zeidan said that a crisis committee had been formed, which included revolutionaries and that delayed budgets for police and security were now being paid out from the Central Bank of Libya.
He said that he and his administration had had enough of those who intimated them and frustrated the will of the Libyan people.
“The GNC is being intimidated by a dangerous loud minority,” said Zeidan, “who stop at nothing to pass their agendas…. Since the day I assumed office a group within the GNC has been doing nothing but work to oust me on no real grounds. This group wants to rule Libya on its own”.
Zeidan asserted that there had been concerted efforts to obstruct the formation of a new army and police force. He said: “I have been trying to avoid saying this, but I had to come out and speak because it’s becoming dangerous”.
He explained: “All my government’s plans to rebuild government institutions have been opposed and this group made sure that plans failed or never happened”. He cited delays from the Audit Office that had been holding up the training of thousands of soldiers in the UK.
Zeidan protested of the GNC: “Laws that require changes to make the government’s work easy haven’t been changed or are being delayed, making our job impossible”. He continued that those who compromised security or national interest through their political activities were against the rebuilding of Libya.
Turning to the armed groups, that his government has long sought unsuccessfully to disband or incorporate within the police and army, Zeidan said: “I don’t hate the Thuwar or the Revolutionaries, but I will never give in to the pressure by these groups using their arms.
“Most revolutionary groups come to me for money or positions in government and if I don’t comply, they say ‘You serve Qaddafi men’s agendas’.…Everyday we have at least three protests at the government headquarters and they’re usually armed, asking for salaries”.
He said his government had been under immense pressure from such groups claiming ‘revolutionary legitimacy’. That pressure currently included the kidnapping of the son of defence minister Abdullah Al-Thinni. This was another demonstration that the army and police were being opposed.
“Many of my ministers and deputies are revolutionaries who fought on the front lines,” he said, adding, “I pay my respects to the real Thuwar, who aren’t greedy or after money or power and just worked and continue to work for Libya ….We won’t give up Libya to those groups who want to claim the country their own. We won’t allow that to happen”.
When speaking of his own kidnapping, Zeidan said: “My abduction is a huge crime with so many sides to it, from lying to falsifying government documents and abducting the head of the government”.
He said that one hundred armed vehicles had driven up to the Corinthia Hotel where he was staying.
“This number of armed men and vehicles would never happen without being pre-organised. This was nothing less than a coup. The armed group claimed to have an arrest warrant and terrorised hotel staff and guests. Armed men forced their way into my room and demanded that I go with them. They stole all my personal belongings, including my clothes”.
Zeidan said that his political opponents had been behind his abduction, intent on forcing him to resign after they had failed to unseat him by forcing a vote of confidence in the GNC.
It was here that the prime minister made a point of refuting reports that, when GNC president Nuri Abu Sahmain had visited him where he was detained, the GNC leader had asked him to resign. Rather, said Zeidan, “ the head of the GNC has been very helpful and tries his best to help me out, but there are others who oppose any progress”.
The kidnappers advanced the Tripoli kidnapping last Sunday of Nazih Ruqaii (alias Abu Anas Al-Libi) by US special forces, as the grounds for their seizure of the prime minister, saying that he had had a part in it.
“My government didn’t know about the US operation” averred Zeidan, “and we condemn the US’s action in Tripoli and we’ll ensure Al-Libi’s rights are protected. We’ll give our full support to Al-Libi and his family and help them in all ways possible. We all want justice and we’ll ensure that al-Libi gets justice.”
Of his own abduction, Zeidan said that he had been told by his kidnappers that they came from all parts of the country except Zintan. He also said that he understood: “One of the people who was asked to help with my kidnapping refused and now he has been kidnapped and his whereabouts are unknown”. He said that prosecutions were being prepared against all involved in his seizure.
Zeidan thanked the Libyan people, singling out the locals in Fornaj who reportedly surrounded the building where he was being held, forcing the kidnapers to hand him over. [/restrict]