By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 22 June 2014:
There appears to be little opposition to the arrest of Ali Ahmed Bukhatallah, according to . . .[restrict]a straw poll carried out by the Libya Herald, though some respondents regretted that it had been the Americans and not the Libyans that had taken him into custody.
The poll suggests there was only limited anger at the violation of Libyan sovereignty.
When asked about the return of former premier Ali Zeidan, there was general indifference, sometimes coupled with mystification. Zeidan was sacked by the General National Congress (GNC) in March and subsequently fled the country. Last week he returned to Libya, appearing in the town of Beida and insisting that he was still Libya’s legitimate prime minister.
Zeidan is questioning the legitimacy of the vote of no confidence in the GNC that led to his removal from office. The GNC passed the motion removing Zeidan with 124 votes in favour out of 138, a margin of just 14. Zeidan wants the courts to rule that Congress’s decision to fire him was illegal.
His call on the courts to reinstate him is seen by many as an attempt to capitalise on the Supreme Court’s annulment of Congress’s decision appointing Ahmed Maetig as prime minister.
The straw poll conducted by Libya Herald staffers in Benghazi and Tripoli indicates that most people feel that Zeidan has waited way too late to press his case with the courts, or they simply just see him as irrelevant.
Several indicated that they simply did not care that Zeidan had returned. Benghazi resident Fatima Awad stated, “Zeidan’s arrival means nothing.”
Nadine Al-Sharif of Benghazi said, “Ali Zeidan’s visit is unwelcome. He was the first one to call for the arrest of Khalifa Hafter (back in February).”
More emphatically stated are the comments of Salah Mahmoud, also of Benghazi: “Zeidan was a failure and we cannot trust him again.”
A few respondents said that they believes Zeidan is the legitimate Prime Minister who was elected legally and has a right to return. A Benghazi accountant named Bubakir said that with the circumstances of his removal from office being so unclear he should be allowed to return and contest that legally.
When asked about the capture of Bukhtallah by US special forces, Hassan, a Tripoli resident, told the Libya Herald, “Killing the American ambassador was a heinous crime and I am against any extreme ideology, but I wish the Libyan government had been the one who arrested him without its sovereignty being violated.”
Another Tripoli resident named Ismail said, “Although I realise that this is a violation of our country’s sovereignty, I believe people such Bukhtallah are a prime obstacle against establishing the country’s institutions. Furthermore, as for me, I can’t forgive Bukhtallah for his shameful crime of killing a guest in Libya, an ambassador at that.”
Many responded by saying that they wish that the Libyan government had arrested him a long time ago, but that since it did not, they are glad that the Americans captured him, adding that they think he deserves punishment.
Osama from Benghazi said that it should have been done a long time ago and he had hoped that the Libyan government would arrest Bukhtallah.
Similarly, Tawfiq Al-Jahmi of Benghazi declared, “For this arrest we are very happy because our government failed to protect us from people like Bukhtallah. We welcome this from America.”
Benghazi resident Salah Mahmoud added, “The government holds meetings and issues declarations, but as the sons of Benghazi are killed, the government is silent. America saved us from this terrorist.”
Benghazi law graduate Nada Mohammed put it this way: “We’ve waited for the government to put an end to terrorism. Our government is so weak and broken.”
Ahmed Saad of Benghazi pointed out that the fact that no one is protesting in the streets is huge evidence that the majority of Libyan people are happy with the move.
There are some dissenters. GNC member Abdullah Ghamati told the Libya Herald that he would have preferred that the arrest happen as a result of coordination between the two governments and not in the way it took place.
A Benghazi lawyer by the name of Niquin said that she sees this event as a violation of state sovereignty, if it really took place without any permission from the Libyan authorities.
In the end, however, the clear results of the straw poll showed that most Libyans are not too upset about any violation of Libyan sovereignty and are ready to see an end to terrorism in their country.
Perhaps Benghazi media worker Nadine Al-Sherif put it most vividly when she said, “This is one of the first good things that has occurred. The Minister of Justice explained (in an interview) that there was a warrant against Ahmed Bukhatallah, but because of the security situation they had not been able to arrest him. The government cannot do what the US authorities achieved with this criminal. Libya did not arrest him for it, even after two years, because of the weakness of the state. The argument about the violation of Libya’s sovereignty is just an excuse being used by those who are afraid of extremist groups.” [/restrict]