By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 2 October 2014: In something of an exceptional move, arch rivals Misrata and Zintan exchanged prisoners today. . . .[restrict]Misrata also released a large number of Tawerghan and other prisoners for Eid in what is being seen as a political confidence building gesture.
Thirty-six Zintani prisoners were released early this morning by the Misratans and sent home while the Zintanis released 21 Misratans. The exchange had been mediated in talks the day before yesterday organised by Sabratha’s Shoura Council of Elders and Wise Men.
Separately Misrata released some 100 prisoners many of whom who had been held since 2011. The majority are said to be Tawerghans although some from Bani Walid and other areas are reported to have been included. The Tawerghans are said to have been handed over this evening to the head of the Tawergha Local Council, Abdurrahman Shikshak, who had travelled to Misrata to receive them.
According to a well-placed Misrata source, those freed are thought to be innocent. Some had been held on suspicion of actively supporting the Qaddafi regime, the source said, but nothing have been proven. In the case of others, allegations made against them turned out to be false. Yet others were simply captured during fighting.
Both the release of the prisoners and the exchange with Zintan are being interpreted as a move by Misrata – in particular its new mayor, Mohamed Ishtewie, and the city’s Shoura Council of Elders – to build bridges across the divide in Libya.
The move was also seen in Misrata’s willingness to takes part in the UN-sponsored talks in Ghadames – which is under Zintan’s control. Moreover, today’s confidence building release and exchange follows a powerful counterblast to dialogue from the Grand Mufti and as well as from revolutionaries in Operation Libya Dawn, which Misrata has till now led.
On Tuesday, the largely Misratan Central Libya Shield forces made clear that they did not agree with Libya Dawn rejection of dialogue. [/restrict]