Monday, June 10, 2013

Army Cheif Quits after Regaining Senses and Conscience

Army chief quits after militia kills dozens in Benghazi

At least 26 people killed in clashes after protest march calling on Libya's militias to disband reached Libya Shield base
  • The Guardian,
Link to video: Libya: fatal Benghazi clashes between protesters and militia
One of Libya's highest military officers has resigned after clashes between protesters and a government-aligned militia he oversaw left 31 people dead in the eastern city of Benghazi.
The army's chief of staff Major-General Youssef al-Mangoush cited the unusually high death toll from the violence in his resignation. Al-Mangoush was due to be replaced soon, and the country's Congress voted in support of accepting his resignation on Sunday.
He was in charge of putting the country's Libya Shield brigades on the government payroll and directing them.
At least another 80 people were wounded when the militia opened fire on protesters gathered outside its base on Saturday.
The demonstrators were demanding the Libya Shield brigade submit to the authority of Libya's security forces.
Television pictures showed people and cars fleeing in panic from the scene amid the crackle of gunfire. Benghazi's Jala hospital was overwhelmed with casualties being brought in by ambulance and private vehicles, with doctors saying they were struggling to cope.
The prime minister, Ali Zidan, made a televised appeal for calm, and promised an investigation.
An organised protest march calling for militias to disband had wound its way through the streets of the eastern city of Benghazi to the Libya Shield base. A similar march was held without incident in Tripoli.
What happened next is unclear. There were reports that some in the crowd threw stones at the base, and militiamen fired back.
A spokesman for Libya Shield, Adel Tarhuni, said his men had no choice but to open fire after the base was attacked, and said one of his soldiers was among the dead. "We had to defend ourselves," he told a Libyan TV station.
Resentment has been growing across Libya over the refusal of revolutionary militias to heed calls by the government to disband.
Last month militias laid siege to Libya's foreign and justice ministries, demanding Zidan's resignation and that "revolutionaries" be given posts in key ministries.
In March, gunfire struck the car of the former speaker Mohammed Magariaf as militias demanding a purge of Gaddafi-era officials stormed the general national congress.
Anger at the power of militias is acute in Benghazi. After an Islamist militia was blamed for the killing of the US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans last September, protesters stormed a series of militia bases.
But the militias were allowed to remain in place by the government, in return for coming under army jurisdiction.
This arrangement will now come under intense scrutiny following Saturday's events, the worst single-day death toll since the end of the civil war in 2011.
Zidan's problem is that the government's own security forces are too feeble to impose order, relying on militia forces for security in many parts of the country.

original article here

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