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The head of Libya’s interim government said a “military governor” had been appointed for the country’s south after almost a week of inter-tribal clashes left 147 people dead, the official Libya News Agency reported today.
National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil said the region that includes Sebha, the oil-rich nation’s fourth largest city, was a “military area,” the agency said. Abdel Jalil said a military governor had been appointed after a reconciliation agreement was reached and resulted in a cease- fire, the agency reported.
The clashes in Sebha began after members of al-Tibu tribe reportedly kidnapped and killed a member of another tribe, spotlighting the difficulty the interim government is facing in stabilizing the nation after the civil war that ended Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s regime. In the several days of fighting that continued despite periods of a cease-fire, 147 people were killed and another 395 wounded, Health Minister Fatma al- Hamroush said in a press conference in Tripoli aired on state television late yesterday.
The NTC, which is running the country after the toppling and killing of Qaddafi, moved more than 1,500 soldiers into Sebha to try to end the fighting. The Libyan news agency cited the country’s military chief of staff as saying that the security situation was stable.
It also said that the prime minister and other officials including the defense minister were in the town to stay abreast of developments there.
The violence is the latest in Libya, home to Africa’s largest proven reserves of crude, as the NTC tries to stabilize the country. The militias that led the fight during the uprising against Qaddafi are resisting efforts to disband and hand over their weapons, demanding more benefits for their various regions from the Tripoli government.
Youssef al-Manqoush, chief of staff of the Libyan National Army, said the southern “military area” is part of 10 such areas that are being formed, the agency said. The purposes of naming a military governor for the south include to “fully control” all forces in the area and to put a plan to secure all “military and vital” targets, he was cited as saying. Any party that breaks the ceasefire will be confronted by force, it cited him as saying.
During a meeting with the citizens of Sebha today, Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib said his country “will not allow anyone to intervene in its internal affairs,” the agency reported. Libyan authorities are following the movements of Qaddafi regime “remnants” residing abroad and warned them against attempts to destabilize the country, the agency cited him as saying.
“Our presence here affirms that the south is an intrinsic part of this country and of its stability,” he said, according to the news agency.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tarek El-Tablawy in Cairo at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Louis Meixler at email@example.com