Libya PM warns of foreign intervention

Ali Zeidan appeals to Libyans that foreign powers may act unless chaos in Libya by militia ex-rebels halts.

Zeidan speaks during a news conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Tripoli [Reuters]

Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has warned his people of the possibility of foreign powers intervening unless the country’s current chaos ends.

“The international community cannot tolerate a state in the middle of the Mediterranean that is a source of violence, terrorism and murder,” said Zeidan on Sunday in an appeal aimed at rallying his campaign against militia groups.

Citing the example of Iraq, he warned against “the intervention of foreign occupation forces” in Libya.

The people must take to the streets ... and support the building up of the army and police.

by Ali Zeidan, Libya's Prime Minister

Zeidan said his country was still subject to a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that allows the international community to intervene to protect civilians.

Speaking at a news conference, Zeidan called on Libyans to rebel against the armed militias.

“The people must take to the streets … and support the building up of the army and police,” said the prime minister.

Zeidan’s calls for support from the public show the difficulty of the Libyan authorities to deal with the militias.

“The state has not been built yet … we need time,” said Zeidan, adding that measures had been taken to accelerate the training of professional security forces.

Libya’s government has struggled to assert its authority as militias of ex-rebels have carved their own fiefdoms in a country flooded with weapons looted from the arsenal of the ousted regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

Increasing violence

Zeidan’s remarks came after a string of deadly attacks occurred in Tripoli and eastern Libya during the past week, in the latest sign of growing lawlessness that has plagued the country since Gaddafi‘s ouster.

Gunmen killed two policemen in Benghazi in eastern Libya on Saturday, a security source said, a day after the army had vowed to restore order in the port city hit by bombings and assassinations.

In separate violence, the head of a court in Derna, a city east of Benghazi, was killed by a bomb under his car as he was leaving his house, another security source said.

Most countries have closed their consulates in Benghazi after a series of attacks. The US ambassador to Libya at the time, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed in September 2012 during an Islamist assault on the US consulate. Several foreign airlines have also stopped flying to Benghazi.

Rebels who overthrew Gaddafi were hailed as heroes for bringing an end to more than four decades of dictatorship.

But many of the rebels have rejected government demands to turn in their weapons or join the national security forces, posing a constant threat to stability.

In October, a militia group briefly kidnapped Zeidan from his hotel in Tripoli.

Source: News Agencies