By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 15 March 2016:
Tripoli militia commander Haithem Tajouri is reported to have taken over the Hall of the . . .[restrict]People at the entrance to the west Tripoli suburb of Hay Andalus as a security measure amid expectations that prime minister-designate Faiez Serraj and other members of the Presidency Council are to go to the capital.
The Council was ordered to Tripoli last week by the UN-mentored Libya Dialogue. The UN Security Council, in a statement yesterday on Libya, back that call. Serraj is now reported agreeing that it will go this weekend.
Tajouri, who heads the Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigade is said to have been angered by the fact that the Presidency Council security team and UNSMIL’s security officials who have been negotiating with several militias in Tripoli did not consult with him about the presidency’s safety in the city. In taking over the former Hall of the People which housed Qaddafi’s “parliament”, the General People’s Committee, he apparently believes he will be in a position to dictate terms if and when Serraj arrives.
The hall is strategically located, controlling one of the main access points to central Tripoli from the west.
Despite the reports that Serraj intends go to Tripoli, it is not clear how he and the other Presidency Council members will do so. Going by land from Tunisia would be too dangerous; they would have to fly to Mitiga. But the Tripoli “prime minister” Khalifa Ghwell, clearly determined not to give up, has again repeated that Serraj cannot come to the capital and three members of the Presidency’s own security team were arrested when they flew into Mitiga nine days ago.
They were later released but have had their passports impounded and told that they may face treason charges.
Meanwhile, UN Special Envoy Martin Kobler has held talks in Istanbul today with former Tripoli military council leader Abdulhakim Belhaj in an attempt to widen security support for Serraj. Belhaj still enjoys significant military influence in the city. However, on the ground, it is Tajouri that currently counts.
“He can do what he wants,” one Tripoli official said this evening. “No one can stand against him at present”. [/restrict]