Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Protesters Shake Up Libya's Interim Government

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Protesters Shake Up Libya's Interim Government

Article excerpt

Libya's postwar transitional government faced a political crisis Sunday after protesters ransacked its offices in Benghazi, highlighting growing nationwide unease with its leadership and triggering a shake-up in which the government's deputy chief resigned and several members were suspended.

For months, youth groups with a range of complaints have been protesting against the National Transitional Council in Benghazi, the eastern city whose protests sparked the nine-month revolt and which once served as the rebel capital. Protests have cropped up elsewhere too, including Tripoli, the capital, where activists have erected a small tent city across from the prime minister's office.

Protesters complain that the transitional council's operations are too opaque and that many of its members are tainted by past ties, real or suspected, with the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

On Saturday night, those frustrations boiled over when a crowd of mostly young men attacked the council's offices in Benghazi, smashing windows and forcing their way inside the building while the council's chairman, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, was inside.

The spark appeared to be the release of a draft election law for the 200 members of a constituent assembly. Activists said it was prepared without consultation or public oversight and that its winner-take-all rules would encourage Libyans to vote along tribal lines or for locally rich or prominent citizens, and undercut those seeking to form new parties.

Seeking to contain the fallout from the incident, Abdel Hafedh Ghogha, the transitional council's deputy chief, resigned Sunday.

Speaking to reporters in Benghazi on Sunday, Mr. Abdul-Jalil, the council chairman, warned that continued protests could lead the country down a perilous path and pleaded with protesters to give the government more time to govern.

"The people have not given the government enough time, and the government does not have enough money," Reuters quoted him as saying. …

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