By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 23 June 2016:
As the Bunyan Marsous operation to wrest Sirte from the so-called Islamic State (IS) reaches a climax, the local council is to meet on Sunday in Misrata to plan for the future. Discussions will largely focus on resettling the town’s tens of thousands of displaced people and their needs. Prior to the 2011, Sirte had a population of 75,000. The vast majority are at present dispersed all over Libya and efforts to help them have been patchy and uncoordinated. They have had to rely on the generosity of the local communities where they find themselves.
The immediate need will be to ensure that they do not all try to return home immediately. The expectation is that, Like everywhere else where IS has been, Sirte has been massively mined.
It will be the council’s first meeting in a year, according to the Libyan news agency LANA.
However, there are complications. The local council is the former unelected administration. A municipal council was elected in May 2014 but was never able to elect a mayor. Efforts to do so were derailed in December 2014 when Islamists prevented an election by seizing officials from the Central Committee for Municipal Council Elections who were travelling to the town to supervise the vote by councillors.
Complicating the situation is the fact that members of the local council have been based mainly in Misrata and were backing, first, the GNC administration of Khalifa Ghwell and now the Government of National Accord. The municipal council, on the other hand, has been keeping a low profile. Most of its members, although they had quit Sirte, decided not to operate, fearing for the lives of their relatives still in the town. IS ideology does not tolerate the concept of elections.
One of the councillors, though, Mukhtar Al-Madani, is close to the Thinni administration in Beida where he currently stays, and managed to persuade it to appoint him “president” of Sirte municipality, a position that has no basis in Libyan law.
It is expected that once Sirte is liberated and safe, the municipal council will return.
That may create a conflict with members of the local council.