Armed Clashes in Sebha: Manufacturing Consent to Postpone Elections

One dead and two wounded in armed clashes in Sebha, southern Libya following clashes between forces affiliated with the Libyan army and others loyal to the Dabaiba government after an attempt to storm the Military Intelligence headquarters.

Armed groups are a security dilemma threatening the Libyan elections

Sebha (Libya) – The city of Sebha, west of southern Libya, witnessed on Monday/Tuesday night armed clashes between forces affiliated with the Libyan army and others loyal to the Government of National Unity headed by Abdel Hamid al-Dabaiba, which resulted in the death of one person and the injury of two others, following a local and international efforts to unify the military institution.

The Sebha Medical Center announced in a brief statement posted on its Facebook page, “We received last night, as a result of the events in the city, two wounded and one dead.”

The fighting erupted after the “116 forces” loyal to the government, led by Masoud Al-Jadi, with the support of the Sebha Security Directorate, tried to storm the headquarters of the Military Intelligence and other sites and positions controlled by the “Tariq bin Ziyad” battalion of the Libyan army, in order to expel them. The clashes that shook the city of Sebha lasted for several hours, using heavy and medium weapons.

The Sebha Security Directorate said that the storming operation came in response to the seizure of 11 four-wheel drive cars by force of arms by forces of the General Command, affiliated with the commander of the Southern Region Operations Group, Major General Al-Mabrouk Sahban , when they were on their way to the southern region, which the government sent to the directorate in order to secure the elections.

The directorate stated that the forces, armed with heavy weapons and armored vehicles, took the policemen who were riding in cars to the Brak base in the Shati municipality.

Pictures and videos broadcast by local media show heavy gunfire in the center of Sebha on Tuesday before dawn. The Sebha Security Directorate condemned these events, which, according to it, aim to “destabilize and create chaos in Fezzan” in southern Libya.

The Libyan army confirmed that it would not allow the security of Sebha to be compromised, and the army general command said in a brief statement that “any attempt to destabilize the security of the citizens in the southern regions, specifically in the city of Sebha, will be met by the armed forces with force.”

 “The Libyan army forces will strike with an iron fist any attempt to attack the citizen or the forces located in the south of the country.”

Clashes with medium and heavy weapons caused an exodus from the nearby “Al-Qarda” area, at a time when shells continued to be fired randomly between the two parties.

And media outlets quoted local sources as saying that schools and public services were closed Tuesday in all parts of the city.

These confrontations come as a new episode of military and security tension in the city of Sebha, between forces loyal to the army and dissident ones backed by the government.

It also comes two days after a meeting between the Chief of General Staff of the Interim National Unity Government, Lieutenant-General Muhammad al-Haddad, with the task force of the Commander of the General Command of the Libyan Army, Lieutenant-General Abdel Razek al-Nadori, in the city of Sirte.

At that time, the Chief of Staff indicated that understandings had been reached, including “non-internal conflict, non-politicization of the military institution, support for efforts to establish a civil state, setting a plan to organize militants and armed formations, and developing mechanisms to unify the military institution,” a step that was welcomed and politically supported.

These tense field conditions will increase doubts about the authorities’ ability to hold the elections, which are naturally faltering due to legal disputes, on schedule after ten days, and in stable security conditions.

Al Arab

Translation by Internationalist 360°