By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 21 August 2014:
Justice Minister Salah Al-Marghani has condemned the “aimless nightly destructive fighting that has no winners” currently occuring in . . .[restrict]western and eastern Libya.
Speaking during a rare, but lengthy, TV interview on Alassema TV’s “The Parliament” programme last night, Marghani condemned the “daily fighting, where tens if not hundreds die (in Tripoli and Benghazi) causing people to flee their homes”.
A peaceful power struggle was expected after the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime, said Marghani, but there was no justification for the current fighting in Tripoli and Benghazi, he said.
The Justice Minister was being interviewed in the Dar Essalam hotel in Tobruk, the current location of the House of Representatives. The interview was an exceptional case of the Abdullah Al-Thinni government reaching out to the public as well as the warring militias through a medium of an interview.
The caretaker government has preferred to issue online statements or use their official spokesperson. Ministers are rarely seen giving interviews – even during the recent crises.
“I hold the leaders, the thuwar (the revolutionary fighters) and the political leaderships responsible for the fighting in Libya”, he said. They had failed in this respect, he added, condemning all sides in the fighting.
Who was responsible for the air strikes?
Asked about who he thought was responsible for the air strikes on fighting militia positions three days ago, Marghani said that he did not think that that was the important issue at this time.
The militias currently fighting in Libya are using Qaddafi’s arsenal to kill fellow Libyans – “So he is still killing us but using our own hands . . These are satanic activities”, he said.
“We sit, we talk and we even disagree”, he said, adding that that the question of who conducted the air raids over Tripoli was a red herring. The fighting in Libya was the issue, he insisted.
International criminal prosecution
He told the militias and their leaders to “wake up”. “There will be legal responsibility attributed – local and international. The international community has made this clear. The international community can pursue the warlords”, he added.
They (the fighting militias and their leadership) still had a chance to re-examine their actions, he stated.. It was not up to the Libyan government. “The international community does not need a request or our permission to pursue legal cases. They will pursue them, their finances, their assets, their ability to travel and their liberty, he elaborated, sending a message to the fighting militias.”
On the HoR’s call for international help in protecting innocent civilians from the warring militias, the Justice Minister said that innocent civilians had the right to be defended. “We the government do not have the equipment for war,” he admitted. Civilians had the right to seek international protection.
The Justice Minister contrasted the paradox and irony of how some quarters were now condemning the HoR’s call for international help in protecting civilians. NATO carried out 28,000 sorties against Qaddafi with and with coordinates provided to them by the thuwar (the militias currently fighting), the Justice Minister pointed out.
Now they say that the international community should not protect innocent civilians – like they had protected them, he contrasted.
“I do not understand this thirst for blood and the hiding behind banners. It will be my lifelong job outside government to seek justice for victims and the pursuit of criminals. They are criminals. I do not see any difference between the current warlords and Qaddafi”, he said.
Weakness of the state
It was not up to the UN to tell Libyans what was right or wrong. “We know”, said Maraghny. But he admitted that the Libyan government did not have the stick to force things. “Qaddafi’s weapons and the weapons that have arrived since (the 2011 revolution) have made these militias strong. The government is weak,” he repeated.
The Mitiga Airport incident
As an example of the government’s weakness, he cited the Mitiga airport incident in which the Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni was prevented from boarding a plane headed to eastern Libya as part of the effort of opponents of the newly elected HoR to prevent him from attending its inauguration at the beginning of the month.
Mitiga had been handed back to the state three times.
“They call us to handover (the airport) and then they come back to take it over,” Marghani explained.
Extremists in Libya
Asked if he thought extremists could establish a permanent base in Libya, Marghani said no. He felt that the actual number of extremists in Libya was small.
He also felt that the gap and differences in Libya between the factions was small. There are no religious sects, he said. He also felt that the environment in Libya is not conducive to the development and rooting of extremism in Libya.
He added that threats top Libya was also threats to the region and the international community.
Many of Libya’s problems were of its own making, he said.
“We jump into the water and we drown ourselves and then we call for the international community and ask them for their help,” complained Marghani.
“It is not Qaddafi that is killing the people, it is Libyans now killing themselves. It is the militia leaders and warlords that are leading the fighting in Libya. They were the thuwar (revolutionary fighters against Qaddafi) and now they have changed from good to bad, affected by power.”
His accusation was explicit: “We will hold you responsible for your actions. Your actions are evil,” he stressed, directing his comments to the militia warlords.
Impressed by HoR
Marghani said that he was impressed by the HoR members and found them aware of the problems and determined to get Libya out of its current crises.
“We presented the truth to the HoR.” The Justice Minister revealed that the government had asked the HoR to amend the current budget. “We have not received any money from the 2014 budget except for wages and even those are given to the government as a loan.”
The Prime Minister answered over 100 questions during the HoR questioning session which lasted from the morning to the afternoon. This was a good sign, he felt.
A new crises government to be formed?
Asked about news of a new government, Marghani gave his personal view saying that he thought a crisis government should be formed with some new faces, but did not necessarily think the new government should be made up of entirely new people.
Security and the army
The most important issue was the army, stressed the Minister. The government needed the means to implement the law and disband all militias. The security issue was what is blocking all progress in all other sectors such as health, education and the like. Without security, there would be no progress in any sector, he declared.
Call for ceasefire
Marghani came down hard on all sides engaged in the fighting all over Libya. War and fighting was unjustified, he proclaimed. He repeatedly called on all sides for a ceasefire. [/restrict]