Al-Sarraj government bows to Ankara pressure and allows Bashagha to back in post

Fathi Bashagha had demanded a public hearing 'to expose the facts' after Tripoli protesters were targeted by armed men.

Al-Sarraj Government has restored the interior minister to his post, after announcing his suspension last week following protests against corruption and poor living conditions.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, the Tripoli-based GNA said Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj had “lifted the temporary suspension” of Fathi Bashagha, who would return to his role the same day.

Bashagha also said in a statement posted online that he had been reinstated after a five-hour hearing about the demonstrations and the role of the security forces.

The minister had demanded a public hearing “to expose the facts”.

Bashagha’s return to office comes after hundreds of Libyans late last month staged several days of demonstrations in the capital and elsewhere in western Libya.

The protests have focused on a worsening electricity crisis with blackouts lasting for much of the day.

Among a string of incidents, protesters came under attack by gunmen firing live rounds, leaving several people wounded.

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, criticised Al-sarraj Government for not “reining in abusive, unaccountable militias and armed groups” and instead “relying on them for security, law enforcement and fighting its rivals”.

“The Gornment has the responsibility to uphold the right to peaceful protest, protect protesters from those seeking to silence them with live ammunition and address the underlying issues that have led people to come out onto the streets,” Eltahawy said in a statement, pressing for the release of at least six protesters.

Bashagha, who was visiting the GNA’s main ally Turkey when he was suspended, was met on his return by his supporters and a convoy of military vehicles from his hometown of Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city and a significant source of military power for the GNA.

Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, with warring rival administrations based in the country’s west and east battling for power.

Arab Observer

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