According to a number of reports from late last week, Prime Minister-elect Ali Zidan was scheduled to reveal his cabinet on 29 October, one day after the two week deadline to present his cabinet. On 29 October it was announced that Zidan’s cabinet would be postponed until the 30 October, due to the absence of a significant number of members of the General National Congress who were still travelling back to Libya after Eid. Separate reports have claimed that Zidan has consulted widely with various parties and groupings inside the congress over the past week and some reports have indicated that he plans to submit up to 32 ministers, including positions for two or three women within the cabinet.
Tripolitania and Tripoli
Reporting in the west of the country has again been dominated by activity in and around the town of Bani Walid, where the ongoing military action culminated last week. The Eid al Adha period has seen little reporting from elsewhere in the west of the country, with no significant incidents being reported in the capital.
On 24 October, the Libya Herald and several other media outlets reported that the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Yousuf Al Manqoush claimed that the national army was now in control of Bani Walid and that major military operations had been concluded. Al Manqoush added that follow up operations would likely continue against small pockets of resistance. The Libya Herald also reported that Manqoush had failed to respond to allegations during a question and answer period with reporters, regarding accusations that he had lost control of his forces several times during the conflict. Manqoush also defended the use of heavy weapons, including rockets and artillery against civilian areas, stating that the force deployed was necessary and proportionate.
At a subsequent news conference, government spokesman Nasser Al Manaa claimed that 50 government aligned fighters were killed during military operations in Bani Walid, with hundreds wounded. A separate report on 25 October claimed that more than 10,000 families had fled the fighting in Bani Walid to neighbouring towns in the region. Al Manaa also announced that more than 100 wanted persons from Bani Walid, had been captured and several hostages freed. Al Manaa also took the opportunity to apologise for apparently false reports from both the government and the National Congress regarding the killing of Khamis Al Qadhafi and the capture of former regime spokesman Ibrahim Moussa last week, claiming that officials had made mistakes regarding the announcements. Manaa further stated that it was not the government’s intention to mislead people or to hide information.
Reuters news agency reported on 26 October that after taking over the centre of Bani Walid, pro-government fighters shot-up deserted buildings with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades in celebration. Other reports also claimed that many residents who had fled Bani Walid during the fighting, had been prevented from returning to their homes in the town for the Eid Al Adha holiday; prompted by rumours of widespread looting.
The Libya Herald wrote on 28 October that Undersecretary of Interior Omar Al Khadrawi visited Bani Walid to oversee the deployment of security forces. During his visit, Khadrawi met with military commanders to discuss the security plan for the town as well as how to facilitate the return of refugees. A spokesman for the army Chief of Staff also reported that refugees from Bani Walid are now being allowed to return to the town and dismissed reports that they were being prevented from doing so.