Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Gaddafi-era minister forced to resign | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Despite the celebrations that have swept various Libyan cities for the first time to mark the 60th anniversary of its independence in 1951- an occasion that the regime of the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had consistently ignored- the National Transitional Council [NTC] and its interim government are coming under growing pressure from the Libyan street. This pressure has led to the resignation of Economy Minister Al-Tahir Sharkas, less than one month after he assumed his post.

In another development, a Libyan military official said that Libya disposed of Sam-7 missiles at NATO’s request during the military operations for fear that they might be used against NATO’s helicopters.

In what seemed as a positive response to the demands of the demonstrators, who took to the streets over the past few days in several cities demanding that dismissal of the symbols of the former Libyan regime, Sharkas gave up his post as economy minister in the ad interim government, led by Abdul-Rahim al-Kib. A Libyan government official told Asharq Al-Awsat that Al-Kib accepted Sharkas’s resignation immediately after he found out that the latter was one of the members of the former Libyan government, led by Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, prior to the fall of Gaddafi’s regime. It is to be recalled that Al-Kib recently told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was ready to immediately expel any minister or official in his government if he finds out that he was one of the symbols of the former regime.

Libyan government sources said that Al-Kib is in the process of appointing a new minister for the economy portfolio to replace Sharkas, who preferred to voluntary give up his post in response to the Libyan street’s pressure and to avoid embarrassing the prime minister.

Libyans view with much indignation the insistence of the NTC and the government to keep officials who previously worked under Gaddafi, and demand that the government remove such officials from any official and government posts. Sharkas’ resignation, the first of its kind in Al-Kib’s new government, represents the first real test to the extent of the ad interim government’s response to the demands of the demonstrators. The demonstrators call on the NTC and government to observe transparency in running the country’s affairs during the transitional period, which will end in six months. This development came amid almost daily demonstrations in the major Libyan cities, notably Tripoli and Benghazi, after political activists started a sit-in in front of the NTC’s former headquarters in Benghazi. They said that they would not end their sit-in until all their demands are met.