Libyan rebels reshuffle leadership

National Transitional Council fires executive board and asks chairman to pick new one, as fighters push towards Tripoli.

Libya’s opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) has dissolved its executive board and asked Mahmoud Jibril, its chairman, to elect a new one.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley, reporting from the opposition stronghold city of Benghazi, said the news on Monday came unexpectedly.

“This came completely out of the blue. There’s a lot of speculation now that there is some sort of inner fallout following the murder of Abdel Fattah Younes, the commander of the opposition forces, more than a week ago.”

Birtley said there had been complaints over the handling of Younes’ death by the NTC and the disbanding of the executive board could be related.

Abdul Jalil, the head of the Libyan opposition, in an interview with Al Jazeera on Monday said: “Administrative mistakes have been noted in the NTC bureau performance in the recent period, prompting the NTC to take the decision to dissolve the bureau.

“A newly formed bureau would be entrusted with reviewing  the ‘conspiracy’ that involved the assassination of General Younes.”

He said, “The members of the executive bureau did not dispose with the assassination issue in a proper manner.”

Asked whether they were accusing anyone, Abdul Jalil said, “No member of the opposition fighters would behave that way with the commander of the national army and his colleagues, unless there is a conspiracy.”

Speaking about whether the decision had something to do with recently noted conflicts and disputes among the NTC members, Jalil said the decision has nothing to do with subsidiary issues.

He said Jibril, the outgoing chairman of the NTC executive board, would be entrusted with forming the new bureau and would submit the new panel to the NTC  for endorsement.

Push to Tripoli

Our correspondent said it was doubtful that the political moves would affect the opposition’s push towards Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s stronghold, Tripoli.

“Even the men who were said to be loyal to General Younes are said to be fighting in the frontline,” said Birtley.

Libya’s opposition fighters had announced earlier on Monday that they would begin their push towards the capital but expected a tough fight, after capturing the town of Bir al-Ghanam on Sunday.

The capture of Bir al-Ghanam was the biggest rebel breakthrough in weeks of largely static fighting on three fronts across Libya.

Libya’s prime minister told reporters in Tripoli on Sunday that government forces were in control of Bir al-Ghanam after fighting off a rebel attack.

But in the town early on Monday, the only sign of government forces was the weaponry they had left behind when they fled, the Reuters news agency reported.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Bir al-Ghanam, said that an offensive was not only made in that town by opposition forces on Saturday but that an offensive, which is holding, was also made along the road that led to the city of Surman.

“Rebels advanced some 30km and are only 50km from the city of Surman,” she said.

“If they manage to take that town they will be able to cut off Gaddafi’s main supply line in the west,” she said. “They know that they can get support from inside that city, that rebels there are ready to rise up against the Gaddafi regime but they need help from outside.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies