By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 5 December 2013:
The new head of Derna Local Council, Hussam Al-Nuwaissary, has refuted the Prime Minister’s statement . . .[restrict]yesterday that the government was in close contact with various security bodies inside and outside the town, including as the local Security Directorate and a number of army battalions.
On his Facebook site, Nuwaissary said that there had been no direct or indirect communication with the government. He accused it of being interested in the town only because people had started protesting against the lack of security there.
Protests against the presence of Ansar Al-Sharia and other militias in the town continued today for the fifth day in a row, with demonstrators, as has become standard, setting off from the town’s Sahaba mosque.
Yesterday, at a press conference in Tripoli, Ali Zeidan also said that the despite the fact that the town had started large-scale protests against illegal militias, Derna was not yet ready for the army and police to be sent in. However, steps were being planned to arrange for troops and police to do so when the time was right. Holding out an olive branch to the militias, he said that when they did go in, the police and army would not target anyone unless they themselves were targeting the sovereignty of the state.
Second only to Benghazi in the number of politically-motivated murders in the past year, Derna has seen state security bodies such as the police disappear.
On Monday, four protestors were injured when gunmen, said to be from Ansar, opened fire at them.
The Prime Minister also said yesterday that the government wants to invest LD 250 – LD 300 million in Derna to create jobs and develop the town.
He said that Congress had been asked to set up a fund which would be used in in various sectors, and to provide job opportunities for young people.
Meanwhile today, there were demonstrations in Sousa and Beida in support of Derna with protesters calling for the government and Congress to take urgent action and send in the police and army to the town.
With input from Ahmed Elumami, Siraj Essul and Ashraf Abdul-Wahab