Irish-Libyan minister rejects nepotism claims

LIBYA’S new health minister, Dr Fatima Hamroush, who lived in Ireland before taking the job, has been accused of nepotism by protesting doctors in Tripoli for employing her sister as her chief-of-staff.

Libya is this week engulfed in demonstrations against the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), accused of secrecy and nepotism, and Dr Hamroush has become a target for anger, with doctors in Tripoli’s central hospital calling for her to resign.

Other medics, however, came to her defence.

Elsewhere in Libya, protests continue against the NTC, with 20,000 marching in Benghazi and smaller demonstrations in Tripoli.

A tent city has been set up in Benghazi’s Shajara Square, with mostly young demonstrators vowing to stay until the NTC comes clean about who its members are and bringing transparency to its work.

“The main thing is that we don’t know anything,” said Salwa Bugaighis, a Benghazi lawyer. “We want to know who is in the NTC.”

Coming a close second is the desire to know what is happening to the tens of millions of dollars in oil revenues pouring into Libya’s coffers each day as oil production revives. That too is a mystery, with no public accounts issued by the government.

Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch in Libya blamed chaos rather than malicious intent for the current confusion in the NTC.

“We are concerned about transparency, it is a fundamental tenet of any democratic government,” he said. “It is understandable but it is not acceptable.”

Secrecy is certainly the watchword for the NTC. Its website states it has 33 members, but in November it recorded the votes of 49 members in the election of prime minister Abdurrahim el-Keib. A UN official in Tripoli said the NTC had refused requests to provide it with list of members.

The NTC press office consists of a single room in a Tripoli hotel which has been locked and closed since Sunday, apparently because the sole press officer is abroad. The Libyan government has also stopped issuing press visas.

By last night, NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the former justice minister of the late Muammar Gadafy, promised that full details of the NTC’s membership and its decisions would be made public, although he did not give a date.

(Source: Irish Times)

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