Magharebia (Washington DC)

11 January 2013

Libya: Tripoli Violence Spurs Zidan Government to Action

Tripoli — Deadly gun battles in Tripoli this week prompted Libyan leaders to take a tough stance on violence.

Force will be used to maintain order in Libya, Prime Minister Ali Zidan said Wednesday (January 9th) in the wake of the latest deadly clashes in Tripoli.

Several people were killed in the latest clashes that erupted Monday following the death of an alleged drug dealer in the Fachloum neighbourhood of the capital.

The Supreme Security Committee (SSC) unit commanded by Abdel-Raouf Karrah killed the alleged dealer, Deputy Interior Minister Omar al-Khadraoui said. Karrah is head of the Nawasi brigade, "widely viewed as Islamist in Tripoli ", Libya Herald reported.

"We will question Abdel-Raouf Karrah," the prime minster confirmed after Wednesday cabinet meeting in Tripoli. "If it's proven that he's violated the law, we won't tolerate that."

The prime minister spoke about the new security crisis, making it clear that Libya would take action.

"We will have to use force," Zidan vowed. "All those concerned must understand that the state will be firm."

"We won't allow anything to threaten Libya's security or prevent the building of the army and police, whatever the cost may be," he added.

"We may lack some resources, but we'll do our work," Zidan continued.

Outlining his determination to confront Libya's security vacuum, Zidan asked the public to show solidarity and responsibility.

"I call on the people to support us, to be patient and co-operate for the sake of Libya, both now and in the future, for the sake of the country's well-being," he said.

"I hope that each and every Libyan will be a soldier for the protection of the homeland," Zidan added.

He also stressed the "need to report those who smuggle arms, ammunition and drugs and any suspicious person".

Within the last fortnight, Zidan also detailed plans to consolidate Benghazi security. Along with boosting the emergency budget to improve services in the city, the Zidan government told the interior and defence ministries to improve co-ordination to improve citizens' safety.

Libya is already working with some foreign partners in aerial reconnaissance over-fights, with unmanned drones in the skies above Benghazi and Derna.

The new hard-line stance on security is winning support from Libyan citizens.

"The people have to support this government to help it focus on building. It shouldn't be hampered by terrorist operations which intimidate people and disrupt their movements," Mahassen Mahmoud told Magharebia.

Mustafa Bin Shaaban, a government employee, agreed with Zidan's strong position, saying: "The government must hit very hard to impose state prestige."

Intessar, a university student, wanted to send her own message to the government.

"Come on, use force and relieve the people of those gunmen who have made matters even worse," she said.

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