By Maha Sulaiman.
Benghazi, 7 June 2016:
Beida Prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni has overruled his local government minister Mohamed Faruq Al-Mahdi and vetoed . . .[restrict]Benghazi Municipal Council’s ouster of mayor Omar Al-Barasi.
Barasi was fired yesterday by his fellow councillors and replaced with Zakaria Beltamer. The move was backed by local government minister Mahdi. However, Thinni today issued a statement saying that Barasi should remain in post until Benghazi had been completely liberated and security in the city returned to normal.
The move has been greeted with anger by the councillors. Beltamer told the Libya Herald this evening that they were about to go into a meeting to discuss the situation. He pointed out that Barasi had held the job on a temporary basis. He had been appointed in November 2014 to succeed Tariq Al-Urfi, who went into hiding after an attempt on his life. He is now believed to be in Tripoli.
Barasi, a former military man, has not been entirely popular in the city. Some have accused him of arrogance and of having poor people-handling skills. But perhaps more importantly, his administration has been seen as unable to cope with the massive challenges of running a city being torn apart by civil conflict. In January last year, councillor Awad Alqawiri withdrew the resignation he had tendered in protest at the council’s ineffectiveness.
Barasi was also criticised for taking too many foreign trips. Last month, he cut short a five-day visit to Bologna in Italy after just one day, when he heard of an earlier move to vote him out of office.
In the past when he was away, Barasi has relied on fellow councillor Anis Al-Mejbri to look after his interests. Mejbri is a relative of Fathi Al-Mejbri, deputy premier for the east in the Government of National Accord. However, yesterday Anis Mejbri reportedly joined those who voted Barasi out.
Last month unidentified armed men briefly occupied the municipal council’s offices demanding Barasi’s resignation because they said he had neglected the city.
Thinni’s rejection of Barasi’s removal did not reference the irregularity of the move. The head of the Central Committee for Municipal Council Elections, Otman Gajiji, this evening told this newspaper that mayoral elections had to be supervised by the CCMCE. This had not occurred with the selection of Beltamer, nor indeed had the CCMCE been involved when Barasi was chosen by his colleagues in 2014. [/restrict]