Libya: Brotherhood mulls cabinet withdrawal
12 September 2013, 09:47
Tripoli - Libya's Muslim Brotherhood is threatening to quit
the cabinet of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, angry over a visit to Cairo they
claim served to legitimise the coup in neighbouring Egypt.
The threat further adds to tensions in a country already
suffering from a blockade of oil terminals by disgruntled employees that has
slashed vital exports and ongoing unrest, accentuated by a car bomb Wednesday
in the restive eastern city of Benghazi.
Zeidan travelled to Egypt last week and met interim
president Adly Mansour, as well as General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the
3 July coup that ousted president Mohamed Morsi, who hails from Egyptian branch
of the Brotherhood.
Following that trip, the Libyan Brotherhood's political arm,
the Party of Justice and Construction, issued a statement criticising the trip.
According to the PJC, it constituted an "open
recognition of the coup d'etat and of its instigators, who have committed
crimes and violations of human rights" against members of the Egyptian
The party further accused Zeidan of trying to "distract
public opinion from domestic matters" and spoke of his government's
"bitter failure" at all levels, particularly in terms of insecurity,
corruption and plunging oil production.
But Zeidan struck back, telling a news conference Sunday
that his trip was "in the nation's interest," highlighting close ties
with Egypt and underlining the importance of bilateral cooperation, especially
in the security field.
He also noted that the Muslim Brotherhood and the PJC had
been hostile to his premiership from the outset and that they had only
reluctantly joined the government in the first place.
Deputy Prime Minister Awadh al-Barassi, who hails from the
PJC, already resigned last month, accusing the government of being
Party members head the economy, housing, electricity, youth
and oil ministries, and a PJC source said that the party's politburo had
decided at a meeting on Sunday to consider an eventual withdrawal from
PJC chief Mohammed Sawan has sought to play down the
significance of the trip to Egypt, instead reproaching Zeidan for failing to
reestablish security in the country and form a professional army and police
Political analyst Issam al-Faidi acknowledged that
"Zeidan's performance is poor".
"But the criticism by the PJC following the trip
demonstrates that, for the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, their connection with the
Brotherhood [in Egypt] is stronger than their ties to the nation," Faidi
Since the popular uprising that ousted long-time dictator Muammar
Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been plagued by insecurity, particularly in the
eastern city of Benghazi, which was the cradle of the revolution.
On Wednesday, a car bomb exploded outside a building that
once housed the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi in what an official
said was a warning that diplomats are not safe.
The blast seriously damaged the building but left no
casualties, and came on the anniversary of a militant attack on the current US
consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the ambassador.
Wave of deadly attacks
A ministry official said those responsible for it "want
to send a message that diplomatic offices are not secure in Benghazi".
The city has been hit by a wave of deadly attacks in recent
months targeting officers in the security force and members of the judiciary,
many of whom served with the previous regime.
Attacks have also targeted diplomats and Western interests.
Much of the violence has been attributed to radical
Islamists who are deeply rooted in the region.
Added to that are the effects of a strike by security guards
at oil terminals that has forced a drop in production to less than 100 000
barrels a day from the average of 1.5 million-1.6 million bpd.
That is leading to daily power and water cuts in the
capital, which is also seeing a rise in crime.