MS Risk Blog

Libyan Prime-Minister Steps Down, Nation Seeks Third Prime Minister in Two Months

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On Sunday, Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani announced that he would resign from office. He is the second prime minister to step down in two months. Al-Thani, who was named acting prime minister in March of this year, was officially appointed to the role of Prime Minister on 8 April. Less than a week later, he decided to step down following an attack on him and his family.

While the details of the attack have not been released, a neighbourhood resident stated that Al-Thani and his family came under attack by a militia as his convoy neared his home. The family escaped the attack, however when they fled to a neighbourhood near to Tripoli’s airport road, where heavy gunfire broke out. No injuries have been reported. This is the second attack on al Thani’s family. In September 2013, while al-Thani was Defence Minister, his son was kidnapped in Tripoli. He was released earlier this year.

Militias have frequently targeted members of the Libyan government in the chaos following the end of the nation’s civil war. On 6 January, The head of Libya’s parliament, Mohamed al-Magariaf, survived an assassination attempt in his home. Weeks later on 29 January, Al-Sadik Abdel-Karim, Libya’s interior minister, survived a barrage of bullets attacking his car as he travelled to a meeting. In October 2013, then-Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was kidnapped at gunpoint and held by militia members in what Zeidan called “an attempted coup.”

Foreign diplomats are also not immune to abduction. On 15 April, gunman -suspected militia members- abducted Jordan’s ambassador to Libya, demanding the release of a Libyan Islamist militant. In March, unidentified gunmen kidnapped Mohamed bin Sheikh, secretary to the Tunisian ambassador in Tripoli. There are no reports indicating he has been released. In January, gunmen detained six Egyptian diplomats and embassy employees, demanding the release of a Libyan militia commander in Egypt.

In his resignation letter, posted on Libya’s government’s website, al-Thani called the attempt on him and his family a “cowardly attack,” and added, “I do not accept a single drop of Libyan blood be shed because of me and I do not accept to be a reason for fighting among Libyans because of this position […]Therefore I apologize for not accepting my designation as interim prime minister.”

Al-Thani will remain interim prime minster until a replacement can be found to lead the caretaker government.

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