Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Libya sees election as way out of security crisis

22 May 2014, 08:03

Tripoli - Oil-rich Libya has called an election for June to replace its disputed interim parliament and try to resolve a power struggle, but violence among militias threatens to scupper the vote.

Highlighting the seriousness of the security threat, the navy's chief of staff, Rear Admiral Hassan Abu Shnak, his driver and two guards were wounded on Wednesday when gunmen attacked his convoy in Tripoli.

Militias are blamed for growing unrest in the North African country since the 2011 Nato-backed uprising that killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Successive governments have complained that the claim by the General National Council (GNC) to executive power as well as legislative authority has tied their hands in taming the militias.

The electoral commission said the election for the currently Islamist-dominated GNC will be on 25 June.

While some observers doubt it will take place, one Western diplomat told AFP the vote could indeed go ahead.

"The electoral commission has the logistical and human resources needed to organise the elections on schedule," the diplomat said.

The government hopes such a vote could help avoid civil war after renegade general Khalifa Haftar, whom authorities branded an "outlaw," launched an Friday assault on Islamists in Benghazi.

Gunmen from the ex-rebel Zintan brigade, saying they back Haftar, stormed parliament on Sunday and set fire to an annex.

Haftar has won widening support for his campaign to rid Libya of jihadists.

Operation Dignity

His supporters include an elite special forces unit of the regular army in Benghazi, who have suffered mounting losses in suspected jihadist attacks in the eastern city where Islamists are well entrenched.

Police brigades, officers at Tobruk air base and the powerful Al-Baraassa tribe from the east have also declared support for Haftar.

And the chief of staff of Libya's air defence units, Colonel Jomaa al-Abani, told a private television channel overnight he was joining Haftar's offensive, dubbed "Operation Dignity".

It was not immediately known what political leanings, if any, Abu Shnak has or what might have prompted the attack.

He was on his way to work when his convoy came under fire, spokesperson Colonel Ayub Kassem told AFP.

"He was lightly wounded in the head. A driver and two guards were also wounded, but their injuries are not life threatening."

Detractors have accused Haftar of being in the pay of the United States, where he lived in exile for two decades, but Washington has distanced itself from the renegade general.

"We have not had contact with him recently. We do not condone or support the actions on the ground, and nor have we assisted with these actions," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

She declined to say whether Washington viewed Haftar's actions as a coup attempt.

Islamist militias defiant 

Islamist militias, including the Benghazi-based Ansar al-Sharia, which was the focus of Friday's assault, have vowed to resist any move against them.

Ansar al-Sharia charged that Haftar was leading "a war against... Islam orchestrated by the United States and its Arab allies."

His forces withdrew from Benghazi after Friday's clashes, which killed at least 79 people, but Haftar said he would re-enter the city to cleanse it of "terrorists".

Ansar al-Sharia said "a confrontation is now inevitable to defend our city and our land. We will act with force against anyone who enters the city or attacks it."

The group, which denies accusations it was behind a September 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, was put on the US terror blacklist in January.

As military tensions escalated, a political showdown was being played out at the 194-seat GNC.

The Muslim Brotherhood, largest bloc in the congress, and radical Islamists had rejected government calls for the GNC to go into recess.

Former rebels once hailed as the heroes of the 2011 revolt are heavily armed and have regional, tribal and ideological rather than national interests.

Both sides in the stand-off have militia allies positioned around Tripoli, raising fears of a rapid degeneration into armed conflict.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
4 ways to handle your cheating ma...

He is cheating. How do you handle him?

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Why do men choose second wives?

Why do men choose to have second wives?

Submitted by
Eugene Odanga
Wizkid set for twin Kenyan shows

Wizkid is back in Kenya. For two shows.

Submitted by
Eugene Odanga
Udada women's festival begins in ...

The Udada women's festival has arrived in Nairobi.

Submitted by
Uhuru pardons 2747 death row conv...

President Uhuru Kenyatta has pardoned a number of death row convicts, sending them to life sentences instead. Read more...

Submitted by
Eugene Odanga
WATCH: Kaka Sungura arrested in t...

Was Kaka Sungura arrested in town?