By Maha Ellawati.
Benghazi, 12 July 2016:
Benghazi has been given a new police chief. The Beida-base interior minister General Mohammed Al-Madani Al-Fakhri has appointed the city’ CID head, Colonel Salah Hwaidi, to replace Colonel Mustafa Al-Ragaig as head of the city’s Security Directorate – in effect the police chief.
The reasons for the change are unclear. There had reportedly been criticism that Al-Ragaig was not an effective leader. Nor has he been particularly popular.
Now that the insurgents have been cleared from the greater part of Benghazi, ordinary policing is returning.
This is the second time, possibly the third, that he has been sacked as Benghazi’s police chief. He was first sacked by the then interior minister, Ashour Shuwail, in February 2013 after police protests that he was not up to the job of ensuring security in the city. He was then reappointed in May last year. Two months later, he was sacked by Omar Sinki but ignored it on the basis that Sinki himself had been sacked at that point by the Beida-based prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni (although, as with so many other Libyan sackings, he refused to go).
There is, however, concern that with the military defeat of IS and Ansar Al-Sharia terrorists, along with supporters in the Benghazi Revolutionaries’ Shoura Council, the city will once again face a terror campaign of assassinations and suicide bombings.
The tidal wave of violence that triggered Khalifa Hafter’s Dignity operation comprised the assassination of scores of serving and retired police officers and members of the military, as well as leading civil society activists and journalists.