By Libya Herald reporter.
Benghazi, 12 October 2016:
The position of General Mohamed Al-Madani Al-Fakhri, the Thinni government’s interior minister, has become unclear with contradictory claims from Beida, Benghazi and the interior ministry itself as to his current position.
There were reports on Monday that he had been relieved of his duties by interim prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni, although still officially remaining in post (which technically was “acting minister”).
This was again stated today to the Libya Herald by sources in Benghazi close to Khalifa Hafter who named the person effectively taking over as Hussain Al-Abbar.
Appearing to confirm these reports, the Thinni government Facebook page yesterday published a report of Thinni, in the absence of Fakhri, chairing a meeting of heads of the interior ministry.
However, a former cabinet colleague told this newspaper today that Fakhri had been reinstated. Seemingly supporting this, the Beida interior ministry reported that yesterday Fakhri was on an inspection trip with Major-General Abdul Razzaq Al-Nazhouri to Musaid on the border with Egypt.
Meanwhile, in a cryptic statement seen as related, the Thinni government said on its Facebook page today that the media should not rely on social media rumours or news leaks but wait for official pronouncements from its spokesman.
The cause for Madani’s removal, according the Benghazi sources, was an incident last week in Shahat in which an alleged drugs dealer was killed by police from Benghazi in an apparent identity mix-up.
According to several reports, police sent from Benghazi by Fakhri arrived in Shihat intending to raid a house believed to used by an Islamic State supporter. The next door neighbour, allegedly a drugs dealer, apparently thought they were coming for him and started shooting at them, reportedly killing two policemen and wounding seven others before himself being shot dead. In the confusion, apparently, the police thought that the dealer was a IS gunman who had managed to escape to the house next door.
According to the former cabinet colleague, the Shihat incident has been used by the prime minister to crack the whip at a capable interior minister with whom he feels uncomfortable. However, the former cabinet member added, Fakhri is close to Hafter which he says is why he would be reinstated.
Fakhri is also reported to have the support of that leaders of the Hassi tribe, of which the alleged drugs dealer was a member. On Sunday they told Thinni that Fakhri and the police were not to blame for the mix-up and that Fakhri should remain in office.
Meanwhile, Thinni has lost his spokesman, Hatem Al-Oraibi. He has resigned saying that he cannot do the job and that of the head of the Beida’s government’s Radio and TV Corporation.
He has been replaced by Abdul Hakim Mohamed Milad Matouq.