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Libyans Demand Release of Gaddafi-Era Officials

Libyans Demand Release of Gaddafi-Era Officials

Sunday, 24 March, 2019 - 08:15
People shop at a market in the old city of Tripoli, Libya November 24, 2018. REUTERS/Hani Amara
Cairo – Jamal Johar
Libyan relatives and supporters of Muammar Gaddafi's intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, protested in Tripoli on Saturday to demand his release.

Meanwhile, the Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, issued a temporary ban on authorizing public gatherings and protests over security haphazard.

Several dozen relatives and members of Senussi's tribe, the Magerha, held a demonstration in central Tripoli demanding his release alongside a number of officials that served in the Gaddafi regime. Demonstrators raised posters, shouting slogans praising Senussi as the “man of national reconciliation”.

The protests, however, received heated backlash on social media, with many taking-to-the-internet on the brutal oppression peaceful protests were subjected to when Senussi reigned over the African state’s intelligence body.

In a statement, the Magerha said his liberation would "contribute to and consolidate national reconciliation" following years of conflict.

The rare protest comes just over a month after the release on health grounds of Abuzeid Dorda, Gaddafi's head of foreign intelligence who was sentenced at the same time as Senussi.

Supporters held up photos of Senussi behind bars and placards reading "Freedom to prisoners. Yes to national reconciliation".

Senussi was extradited in September 2012 by Mauritania, where he had fled after Gaddafi was overthrown and killed.

He and Saif Islam had been the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for suspected war crimes during the 2011 uprising, which in 2013 gave Libyan authorities the green light to put him on trial.

He is being held in the capital, along with some 40 other senior officials from the Gaddafi regime, including the dictator's last Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi. Seif al-Islam was captured and imprisoned by an armed group in the northwestern city of Zintan and sentenced by a Tripoli court in absentia.

The group announced his release in 2017 but it was never confirmed and his fate remains unknown.

In parallel, the Interior Ministry of the Tripoli-based GNA Ministry, for its part, released a statement barring the “organization of the right to peaceful demonstration, given current national security conditions and the dangers entailed on acts of sabotage which affect both the homeland and the citizen.”

As reported by the statement, Interior Minister Fathi Pasha Agha instructed security taskforces to halt all permits for public gatherings, marches and sit-ins temporarily until the security situation improves.

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