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Libyan PM sacks defense minister following upsurge of violence - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A picture taken on November 27, 2012 shows then newly appointed Libyan Defence Minister Mohammed al-Barghathi speaking during a handover ceremony at the headquarters of the Libyan army chief of staff in Tripoli. Al-Barghathi is to be replaced, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on June 27, 2013,  AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA.

A picture taken on November 27, 2012 shows then newly appointed Libyan defence minister Mohammed Al-Barghathi speaking during a handover ceremony at the headquarters of the Libyan army chief of staff in Tripoli. Barghathi is to be replaced, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on June 27, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Ali Zeidan, Libya’s interim prime minister, sacked Defense Minister Mohammed Al-Barghathi on Thursday following violent clashes in Tripoli between unknown gunmen. The decision came as a surprise amid a deteriorating security situation in the capital.

Smoke could be seen billowing over the Abu Salim and Saladin districts in Tripoli following clashes in which 10 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded, local news agencies reported.

In a televised speech, Zeidan said: “After what happened yesterday [Wednesday], it has been decided [Al-Barghathi] will be relieved of his position.” He added, “We will name a new minister as soon as possible.”

Remarkably, Zeidan did not explain the reasons behind his dismissal of Al-Bargathi who had offered his resignation last month after insurgents stormed several ministries in Tripoli. Bargathi later withdrew his request.

The Libyan premier added: “Such incidents that take place due to the prevalence of weapons need to stop. Ensuring safety does not mean sitting with a weapon . . . it means supporting the unity of the nation and its legitimate bodies.”

Blaming the recent unrest on groups loyal to the former regime, Zeidan announced that the General National Congress (GNC) and the interim government have agreed on a number of resolutions mainly aimed at disarming insurgent groups

The interim prime minister stressed the need for forming a national army composed of revolutionary youth. The army should not include remnants of the former regime who are targeting the February 17 revolution, Zeidan said.

He also announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the recent incident in Tripoli, confirming that his government is still intent on executing the GNC’s decision forcing out armed insurgents from Tripoli.

Zeidan explained that the GNC had ordered the armed forces to evacuate the Yarmouk camp within five days, demonstrating Tripoli’s decision to form other military bodies allied to the government.

Zeidan also revealed that a new chief-of-staff would be appointed, after Yussef Al-Mangoush resigned last month.

The ministry urged Libyans in all cities to cooperate with the government and immediately withdraw their family members from battalions operating in the capital.