By Adam Ali.
Benghazi, 1 February 2015:
Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni and government ministers flew to Benghazi’s Benina Airport this morning where they . . .[restrict]were met by local military and civil leaders. It was Thinni’s first visit to the city since being re-appointed Prime Minister by the House of Representatives.
Accompanying Thinni were the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Services, Abdul Salam al-Badri, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Government Authorities Abdurrahman Al-Ahirsh, Interior Minister Omar Sinki, Education Education Fathi Al-Majbri, Local Government Minister Mohamed Farouk and Deputy Defence Minister Masoud Erhuma.
Prior to a meeting between the government ministers and army commanders at the military base at Benina, Thinni and the ministers made a tour of Benghazi to assess the current situation and its needs, particularly those of the army. Ansar Al-Sharia and its allies have been pushed out of much of the city since the Libyan National Army (LNA) and Operation Dignity launched its offensive against them in October but fighting is still taking place in some districts. Despite LNA claims to control 90 percent of the city, the Islamists are still in firm control of large parts of Hawari, Gwarsha and Leithi. In the past few days, Ansar have been operating checkpoints Hawari. Last week, it posted photos on social media of a number of its “Islamic Police” vehicles at the cement factory in Hawari, although there claims that they were old.
Other areas such as the downtown port district and Suq Al Hout are also still considered dangerous.
As well as the army’s needs and the security situation in the city, the meeting with army commanders also focused on enabling residents to return home and normal commercial life to restart. During the meeting, Thinni announced that the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs had been instructed to provide assistance to displaced families, the Ministry of Health to ensure adequate medical cover in the city and the Ministry of Interior to secure petrol stations and cooking gas distribution centres as well as vital services and utilities.
Among the military leaders attending were 204 Tank Brigade Commander Colonel Mehdi Al-Barghathi and Benghazi military commander Colonel Faraj Barasi.
The government has not met in Benghazi since it moved to Tripoli following its liberation in August 2011.